Filed under: Media | Tags: Advice, Career, Comics, Dating, Life, Media, Spider-Man, Wolverine
Really good advice is rare, especially when it comes to figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life. I can literally count on one hand the number of times I’ve received really good advice on either of these topics.
One of those times, the advice came from the father of a friend of mine, who told me that no matter what you do for a living, there will always be moments of boredom and tedium.
Even the most exciting job in the world has days where you’d rather be doing something else. This is a phenomenally and necessarily sobering idea that has kept me from getting discouraged when I hit those “dip” moments, when the excitement of some pursuit starts to (temporarily) give way to those phases when it just feels like work.
Another time was a bit of insight on rejection from Stephen King’s On Writing, which I’ve mentioned before.
Most recently, I found some great advice in, of all places, an issue of Amazing Spider-Man: Extra!, released this past winter. The advice comes in the form of a story that the character Wolverine tells Spider-Man after the two of them get into a bar fight together.
The story is about dating and the advice is about fighting (I’ll let you make your own pithy observations about that little juxtaposition), but it could just as easily apply to starting a writing career or, indeed, just getting your life together.
The bar fight was a fairly pointless one: Spider-Man and Wolverine weren’t really foiling super-villainy, they were just – as Wolverine puts it – “blowing off steam.” Spider-man, being an eternal worrywart, asks Wolverine why he would take the risk of getting in a fight when there was so little to gain.
Wolverine responds with this story, which an old army officer once told to him:
“It’s about a good guy, like you (Spider-Man). He grew up poor, though around people like him. People who dressed a little shabby but good people nonetheless.
But he decided he was meant for somethin’ better. He wasn’t gonna settle for any plain woman like his pops had. He was gonna marry a beauty… nothin’ short of a knockout.
So he stayed away from the neighborhood girls, even though some of ‘em woulda been happy to show ‘im a thing or two. But he waited.
Months of waitin’ turned into years and people started to talk. But he didn’t care. He was waitin’ for his perfect girl. A stunner.
And one day, what do you know, he found her. Everything he’d hoped for. Smooth skin, big eyes…a knockout.
He chased her like his life depended on it, and she must’ve seen something in his enthusiasm, because eventually she relented.
This was it. His big moment. And you know what? He had no idea what to do. He kissed her with a dry mouth, fumbled with things he shouldn’t have, and before he knew it, the whole thing was over.
The beauty, unsatisfied, left him stunned and alone, wishin’ he’d let a few of those plain janes teach him a thing or two.”
What a great little analogy. The point – as I see it – is that nobody ever got anywhere by sitting around waiting for conditions to be perfect. Because even if – by some unlikely cosmic convergence – the perfect conditions DO present themselves, if all you’ve done is sit around waiting, you’ll be completely unprepared to capitalize on them when they do.
Progress comes from movement. Whether you’re trying out a new career or trying to get your work in the public eye or even trying to make sense of your dating life, taking risks by starting down a road you can’t necessarily see the end of is a good in itself – because chances are, the experience you gain will far outweigh anything you might have lost by taking it and finding out it was the wrong one.
The only wrong direction is no direction – as long as you’re moving, you’re on the right track.
Thanks for the good advice, Wolverine.
Wells, Zeb. “Birthday Boy”. Amazing Spider-Man: Extra! No. 2, March 2009. Published by Marvel Publishing Inc.