Life Lessons

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In his memoir, bestselling author James Patterson shares the stories of his life. Here’s one of my favorites from the collection:

To my surprise, maybe even shock, I quickly rose to become CEO of Thompson North America. I was still in my thirties. On the side, I was writing one or two bestselling novels a year. It was nuts. Something had to give or eventually I would.

Life lessons are everywhere, right? The trouble is, like most people, I tended to ignore them. I soldiered on though long days and nights. I was working too hard. I knew it.

But every once in a while, I snapped out of it and actually paid attention.

It happened to me on the New Jersey Turnpike, of all unlikely places. One Sunday afternoon, I had to leave the Jersey Shore for a meeting in New York. The last thing that I wanted to do was schlep back to work. The last place I wanted to be was hot, sweaty New York City in July.

An hour and a half after I left the shore, I was still trapped in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The proverbial turnpike parking lot. Cars moving at ten miles an hour.

On the other side of the road, an occasional car went whizzing by. Whoosh. Maybe one car every fifteen seconds.

Whoosh…

Whoosh…

Whoosh…

I sat there, mildly pissed, absorbing this very obvious life lesson for about an hour.

Then I finally got it. The lesson was simple and so very clear. Why hadn’t I seen it before?

My mission in life had to be to get on the other side of the highway. To get in the traffic lane that was moving. My life was going in the wrong direction.

I swear to God, that insight, that miserable time trapped on the Jersey Turnpike, drove me out of advertising.

I focused on writing novels.

And I made it my mission to try and find somebody who would love me and who I would love back.

Whoosh…whoosh.

Source: James Patterson – The Stories of My Life, pp. 122-123.

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