Why Survive When You Can Live?

You know how people say bad things happen in threes? Well I think what they mean to say is that bad things happen in numbers that are divisible by three—like 39 and 60. Between the beginning of 1999 and the end of 2001 I lost four family members (one of whom was my father), filed for divorce, become a single mother, was pushed to the brink of bankruptcy, was the victim of identity theft, almost lost my home (which was built by one of the family members I lost), chauffeured someone very close to me to a psychiatric ward for a prolonged stay and was in a car accident. Believe it or not I’m leaving a lot out. When I had married several years earlier I had nurtured a vision of what I thought my life was going to be like and by the time 2001 came to a close I had come to accept the fact that my ‘vision’ was really an illusion.

So what do you do after the twentieth shoe has dropped? Well apparently you write a murder mystery.

Many people who’ve heard my story have taken the time to praise my strength and give me kudos for having the courage to turn lemons into lemonade. I’ll admit that I’m proud of my accomplishments but I’m not so sure they’re due to strength or courage. Becoming a writer wasn’t some life long dream that I continued to pursue despite all obstacles. Before I started writing Sex, Murder And A Double Latte I had never seriously considered becoming a professional writer—hell, the last fictional piece I’d written was an assignment given to me by my high school freshman English teacher. So I knew the odds of my getting published right out of the gate weren’t good. I could have failed. So what?

Sure, I wanted to succeed. I wanted to hit the New York Times Best Seller’s List—I still do. But when it comes to pursuing dreams success and failure are a lot less important than the pursuit itself. Think about it—how many times do we read about someone who achieved some major accomplishment only to turn around and kill himself? I would never be so presumptuous as to speculate on why someone I’ve never met would resort to suicide but I do know that realizing a dream in and of itself is not enough to save a person from depression.

You see, I wrote because I needed a new dream. In many ways my life had become an exercise of survival and it didn’t have to be that way. Right at my fingertips was the opportunity to pursue a goal that had nothing to do with survival and everything to do with living. So I dealt with the lawyers and the family crises when I needed to and then after the law offices had closed and my son was safely tucked in bed I would sit down with a notebook and pencil and pursue a dream. It didn’t take strength or courage. It was just me indulging in a luxury.

As a species we’re genetically designed to want to do more than survive. If that wasn’t the case there would be no art, no music, no civilization at all.

Sometimes pure survival is the only option available to us. Ask the people who live in Sudan or a soldier in a POW camp. Those people would literally give their right arm for the opportunity to pursue a dream. I had that opportunity—it was given to me in the form of a blank piece of paper. With every page I wrote I was filled with a new sense of hope—a new ‘what if.’

If I hadn’t landed a book contract I would have gone into a depression, I’m only human. But I don’t want to just survive—I want to live and so eventually I would have found yet another new dream to pursue and I would have been filled with a new hope and it is that pursuit that makes me whole.

If you’re reading this the chances are you’re not living on the streets of Sudan so if all you’re doing is surviving ask yourself why.

I urge you—pick up a pen, a paintbrush, a textbook, whatever and start living.

Kyra
www.kyradavis.com
Sex, Murder And A Double Latte–May 2005

March 19, 2005

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11 Comments

  1. Evelina

    March 22, 2005

    Thanks Kyra! I started “living” about 6 months ago when my husband practically strapped me to the computer and told me to “write already”. I’m not saying I was “forced” to do something I didn’t want to do. On the contrary, I was coerced to FINALLY do something I’ve wanted to do since I first picked up a pen and paper. I never had the courage. I never had the drive. I never had a reason. I never believed in myself. And like you, if I don’t get published I think I will also slip into some form of sadness or depression. But if I don’t push forward and at least try then I won’t know. And just being able to write, being able to communicate with my soul has already been extremely satisfying. Wishing you and all of us out there who are struggling to find our “purpose” all the success in the world! Evelyn

  2. Janette

    March 23, 2005

    You write beautifully. I can’t wait to read your book. I’m glad your dream has been realized… there is already a long reserve list for your book at my local library. And I too hope that it lands on the bestseller list.
    ~janette

  3. Crafty Chica

    March 23, 2005

    right on, girlie! well said! its a shame that so many unhappy people could change their lives if only they took the time to “got for it”. they make it too hard for themselves and psych themselves out. i wish they could all read your post! glad to hear about your success!
    kathy 🙂

  4. kyradavis

    March 23, 2005

    Janette—I’m thrilled that the library already has reader interest in my book! I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

  5. kyradavis

    March 23, 2005

    Janette–I agree, it’s horribly sad that people allow fear to prevent them from pursuing a dream. While I know that most of those people won’t ever read this I do hope that maybe one or two will and that maybe, just maybe, something I wrote will hit a chord.

  6. Desiree

    March 23, 2005

    Hi Kyra,

    You commented that you hoped your posting hit a cord with someone…just letting you know it did :).

    Thanks.

  7. kyradavis

    March 23, 2005

    Desiree,

    That’s the best review I could ever hope for.

    Thank you.

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    October 26, 2005

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  11. Pat

    January 24, 2008

    I just discovered your first book and read it in one sitting. Loved it. As someone who has been slaving over her first YA novel for more than 2 years, you inspire me to keep on. As a native San Franciscan, your descriptions are right on. Pat

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