Most Give Up Right Before The Pot Of Gold
When one is laying on a sleeping bag on a concrete floor in an abandoned aluminum metal warehouse in rural Ms. trying to launch an offbeat cartoon, back in 1997, is a lot more than hard, no matter how much vision someone may think they have to make dreams come true, to think of Londons Times Cartoons Generation 2, which would not be launched for another 13 years. That dream has happened and I’m working on others. The secret was persistence. Never giving up.
I was still trying to find a team of illustrators to render my concepts and writing. By 1998, we had 88 cartoons, mostly black and white, and I was still sleeping on the concrete floor.
This metal warehouse that became my home didn’t have to be. I lived within three miles of my younger brother who runs my late father’s real estate firm, the largest commercial and apartment Realtors in Mississippi, managing and owning over 10 million square feet of property, but he said he could not rent to me because I “owned a dog”.
There was no place to live and I was stuck in Hattiesburg. I slept on the few friends I had couches until I landed the metal warehouse. The only words that went through my mind were in Jimmy Buffett’s book, “A Pirate Looks At Fifty” in which he describes Hattiesburg where he went to college at USM as “The City That Care Forgot”. There was much hate and vitriol from behaviors, most likely, I had exhibited as a teenager. And even then, none were felonious, and none were bad enough to where I should be denied food and a roof.
Ironically, I am so happy life was unfair in my little backwater town. Had it been fair, I would probably be running a real estate firm with my brother (this is what my maternal grandfather Marcus London wanted) who ran the firm, but after my father took it over he divorced my mom and ran off with a younger woman, divorcing me too; started my life on the right path. Not to say it didn’t have landmines and all kinds of chaos, but when it manifested, all came together, and big names and names worldwide 8.7 million of them were applauding my work, who in the world could I thank more than my own family of birth for ousting/snubbing me? I have them to thank. I am only sad they never got to live their dreams. Oh well. Its never too late.
Poverty is the mother of invention, and Londons Times Cartoons and Gifts were born. One might not think that is such a great thing, but within seven years Google had ranked it number on on their search engine for offbeat cartoons where it remains. In 2008, MSN did the same. It is still number one there (as are the cartoon gifts at both Google and MSN).
As I write this story it is November 8, 2010 and we have over 5000 original color cartoons, a state-of-the-art cutting edge website, over 100,000 gifts, tees, cards, mugs and more, and a fan base who visits often of over 8.7 million people since 2005. I no longer live in the Mississippi metal warehouse, but on the edge of the oldest National Park in America. I am married to a wonderful wife Lee Hiller-London who is an amazing designer and photographer who is now my mentor though it did not start that way.
There’s something about me that feels like crossing the path of a black cat or walking under a ladder when I tell people “Never Give Up”. The reason is because I am keenly aware of the obstacles and landmines that we face when we shoot for the stars.
Nobody, not even those close to us, sees our vision unless they are of similar intelligence or highly attuned to the fact that we have already hashed the dream out again and again in our minds. Most are not of that mindset, have limitations, and it is simply easier to label you crazy. If you have the guts, you can have the glory. It’s that simple.
Not everyone is against you and your dreams. It is just that it is human nature for those who knew you well all your life, to feel a bit abandoned by you for even thinking such a dream. And truly, I understand that. I feel sad that they did not get the education and life experience I did, and because of that, they will always “deem you a bad seed” “prodigal son” and you name it. But the truth is, you are living your truth. As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true”. I always thought that was a cute little Shakespeare saying until I was finally forced to live it. But Shakespeare’s words were what life is about.
A literary gem by Socrates is, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. How many do you know that examine their life or are true to it. Bless their souls but they are the walking dead. And the sad fact is it only takes a small series of actions to live one’s dreams exactly as they wish. That is, if they don’t give up when it gets overwhelming, or at the sight of an upcoming obstacle. If it were easy, everyone would be true to their examined true self. If might be a bit difficult, but it is more than worth it. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s. I can truly say that and mean it. So can you, if you try. And no pricey life coaches needed. Just do it. As Wordsworth said, “To Begin, Begin”. So just begin, don’t think of the outcome, be patient and have persistence, and watch your dreams happen.
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