Wow, forgive me for the redundant name, but it’s something I feel every single day. A Fire Inside, the official name of the band known as AFI. We all possess this fire, but many lose it somewhere between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six. Or do we? How many of us are older than twenty-six, and in our thirties, forties, fifties, and even sixties, and wonder what could’ve been had we stuck to the path. What made you give in? What made you give up on your ambitions, only to become a sheep in the flock.

Why is it that I still possess this teary feeling inside my stomach every time I look at another worklist from my employer, or a stupid spreadsheet reminding me to preach value and to sell, sell, and sell a product I have zero interest in selling, though I love the lifestyle? Forgive me for the long sentence, but it’s my pitch for this work. Numbers say this, numbers say that, this isn’t my dream. I thought it was. Really, I did, until discovering I became like everyone else. A sheep in the herd. I have to escape this mess. Escape this madness. Dig myself out of this hole I dug myself into. I never wanted this. Oh, but so I thought. It all goes back to high school.

What do I want? I want my message of freedom and happiness to be preached to the hopeless masses. Give them a ray of hope, something to believe in, other than their favorite NFL team winning on a Sunday or during a primetime hour. This is what I want, and I’ve always wanted it. Thinking back to my latter days of grade school, and my early days of middle school. This is what I wanted, but I figured it was frowned upon as feminine. Writers teach English class, and all English teaches are female, I believed. Oh, how ever wrong I was! Man, I just want my voice to be heard, my stories told, and to get out of this office someday. To make appearances, rev up the masses, let them know things don’t have to be the way they are.

Oh, what could’ve been! Wait. Take a deep breath, Todd. Things aren’t as bad as they seem. You’re but twenty-six years of age, and if you do the math of this year versus yesterday, twenty-six is like, being sixteen. Your whole life is ahead of you, barring catastrophe. You’re single, childless, and a man who isn’t afraid to speak his mind even if it costs him his job. You’ll never end up in a homeless shelter, even if you lose it, because you love the forest and woods too much. You can survive without much. It only takes a pen and paper to jot down thoughts in a situation where you become a real-life version of Robin Hood.

But no, you’re too stubborn to give in. You aren’t like everyone else. You refuse to give in. Quitting on your ultimate dream isn’t an option. No! Even if it costs you a job. Even if it costs you everything you put yourself thirty-thousand dollars in debt for. That just meant the desire didn’t come naturally. Something else does. Yes! It’s putting words to a screen, or a pen to paper. Yes! You’re still young enough. Sure, you have bills to pay, food to eat, a freedom number to hit, but you’re okay. You’re young, and you can still do this. You don’t have to sit in an office and preach the value of something to people for thirty-five years. You don’t have to feign a passion for this any longer, because your gods and goddesses called you back to the ancient path, or your original path. You’re a writer, and your voice must be heard. You need it to be heard. You need to have haters in life. Haters who call you out every time you fail. You can name them, you went to school with them, but they provide motivation and not discouragement. You can do this, and they can watch, as you relentlessly pursue your dream.

Never give up. Don’t give in. Don’t give the masses satisfaction of watching you fail. Succeed, and change their mindset. This is what you’ve worked for! A Fire Inside is lit, and keep the Freedom Flame burning!

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