I Walk the Line, Performed by Wallace Stevens and the Flying Wallendas

“Upon further consideration, I will concede that the 128 oz Big Gulp was an unfortunate choice.”
Nick Wallenda crossing Niagara Falls. Photo source: http://whitneyjohnson.com/brian-d-shelton-life-on-the-wire/wire/

These Heroic Quests are a lot of work. It requires focus and dedication to pursue Dreams, Aspirations and such. And when you already have a very full life, a job, a family, responsibilities and obligations, it can be very difficult to strike the right balance. Like one of the Flying Wallendas on the high wire without that really long, bendy pole.

Lately I have been having this problem. While I have done more writing this year than ever before, I struggle to write a few times a week much less every day, which is my goal. I have entered several contests and am building a portfolio slowly but surely, however the demands of fatherhood, husbandhood, workerhood and what-have-you-hood are leaving me sagging. Like the wire upon which a tenuously wobbling Wallenda traverses some frivolous distance. Yes, I am going to get my money’s worth with this metaphor.

Anybody who is going back to school, taking night classes, or changing careers knows all about it. Most of us can’t put life on hold for our Quest, so we are doing a lot of multi-tasking. Unfortunately, people with ADHD generally suck eggs when it comes to multi-tasking, so we have an added layer of complexity.

But this isn’t a blog about excuses. The staff here at WYOS are all about believing in Impossible Dreams. And then, Bam! Making them come true.  If we had a mission statement, it would probably actually have the word ‘Bam’ in it.

Many successful people started out millions of miles away from their Ambitions when they began their own Journey, working in unheralded occupations. Rod Stewart was a grave digger. Christopher Walken was actually a lion tamer for a while, which, if you think about it, sounds about right.

The author Chuck Palahniuk wrote Fight Club while working as an auto mechanic, writing in his spare time. Fun fact: my favorite line in the film adaptation of his novel is when Tyler Durden says that if he could fight anyone, living or dead, he’d fight Ernest Hemingway. Just sayin’.

Wallace Stevens

“Who’s the baddest poet around?… Iamb. Get it, Iamb? Like the pentameter?”. Wallace Stevens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, in the spirit of part-time, off hours Questing, we are celebrating one of my personal Heroes, Wallace Stevens.

Wallace Stevens was a mild-mannered insurance executive with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company; he inconspicuously wrote poetry in his spare time. After publishing his first book of poems, (Bam!) he quickly became one of the leading voices in American Modernist poetry. He received the annual National Book Award for Poetry twice, and he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his Collected Poems in 1955 at the age of 76. And he achieved all of this while still maintaining his job at Hartford Accident and Indemnity. He struck a balance. He walked the line.

Joyce Carol Oates, 2006

“I will drop you like a dangling modifier, son. What?!”                       Joyce Carol Oates, 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coincidentally, Stevens also famously lived Tyler Durden’s dream by picking a fistfight with Ernest Hemingway while vacationing in Key West, breaking his hand on the author’s jaw. Stevens also feuded with Robert Frost. I love the idea of poets and novelists beefing like hip hop stars.

So, today, if you are going to work at a job that is less than Heroic (parking meter factory for me), remember Wallace Stevens. Follow his lead by taking a swing at your Dreams, not, say, Joyce Carol Oates. Cause I hear she’s pretty badass.


Here is a link to a reading of Wallace Stevens poems, recited by the renowned intellectual… Bill Murray.

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