The Under Toad*

What happened to July? (Was actually pretty awesome.)

Lake Ontario shorelineI feel like I went under water somewhere about mid-June-ish and am finally breaking back up through the surface. I’m a little out of breath but I am no worse for the dunking. Happily, where I used to be treading water I am now actually swimming.

I started with Patreon in February and I’ve been balancing the work of fulfilling patron rewards along with that of personal creative projects (like this blog), and then seeing to the business development of a burgeoning artist and tarot reader. All within the renewal of my traveling life with a goal towards easing back into some kind of migrant farming work when dust settles.

Yesterday, I conversed with a friend about my trying to figure out how I go about increasing my income, when earning money is not the primary reason I do the work I do. I listed out my intent, skills, and passion. He paused a moment and told me (paraphrased) that he thought I’d bitten off a rather large and oddly shaped piece of entrepreneurial effort. Yeah, I told him, I kinda thought so too.

I know that what I’m doing is a bit cumbersome to navigate, but life is short and the world is big. Thus, I am bent on living the whole “follow your heart and the rest will take care of itself” thing. It’s been a learning experience, for sure, but that right there is a large part of the source of my drive. I sometimes think I am more otter than human.

My friend said, then, to imagine myself at 65 and asked what I expected to have at that point. In reflection, I think he meant something like a retirement fund, but I responded that I want to remain productive, capable, and in good health. I never really thought of myself as having the kind of work from which I would retire. I have always believed that, whatever my job, I’d be working until the day I die. Yes, I know it would be a very good thing if I could sock away a little savings, too.

Feet in Lake OntarioI do have confidence that it’s all going to fit together, somehow. Right now the pieces are still shifting and settling into place, and that’s where the Under Toad lives. The gnawing, daily fear that no matter how fast I paddle, I may never make it to shore. And that if I do make it, no one will be there to greet me because I’ll have taken too long.

Well, it has been in this last month that I’ve told myself to just keep paddling. Every morning, I repeat my mantra that every day is another chance to cover whatever distance I can. Just keep my head up, slice through that water and I’ll get to shore when I get there. If a wave comes and knocks me under, roll with it and when I hit that surface, aim for shore and start paddling once again.

Under Toad be damned.


* The title of this entry comes from the World According to Garp, John Irving. Garp’s son transmogrifies an undertow at the beach into a monster called the Under Toad. In the story, the Under Toad becomes a representative of that anxiety expressed in the face of danger or perceived danger. I first read that book in high school and had forgotten about that scene until it volunteered.

Here is an excerpt of that scene if you’d like to read it.