A dead rat

The universe is telling me something

On Friday, I gave two weeks notice at my office job. I will be pursuing writing full time. I won’t lie. It was difficult to walk away from a paycheck. It was the first job I have ever quit. However, everything else about the decision was easy and the reason why might surprise you.

I’ve long believed that my surroundings, the universe if you want to call it that, is giving me signs all the time. Most times I am distracted, but on Tuesday of last week I was paying attention.

First some backstory. I’ve been working outside of the home for another company for the past three years. Before that, I had worked for myself for fifteen years. I just fell into the job. A one-time contact turned into full time work. The work was creative and challenging and I enjoyed it. Two years ago, the company began a downward slide. Business began to dry up, followed by poor business decisions and a lack of respect toward employees. Layoffs began and in the end, one employee remained. That employee wasn’t me. I was laid off. I should have taken that as a sign, but I returned during the fall of 2015. I have bills to pay, I told myself.

I had been writing screenplays for years, switching to novels in 2015. My three month layoff allowed me to focus on and finish my first novel, before bills began to pile up again.

Now, six months into 2016, I’ve self-published my first novel (Tied) and am half way into my second (Vermin). I’ve discovered a couple of things. First, writing is my path now. I can’t ignore that any longer. Second, the day job had become a sea of negativity and disrespect. The job no longer fed my creative soul. The day job was blocking my path to writing and while I had reduced my hours to allow for more writing, the days were still fractured. It wasn’t about the money anymore. I was giving the best eight hours of my life every day to an endeavor that no longer meant anything to me.

Back to last Tuesday. My second novel, Vermin, is about rats, and as you might imagine, rats are on my mind a lot lately. As I was walking home, thinking about my day job, about quitting, and what that would mean, I noticed a dead rat on the side of the road (pictured above). Rats are intelligent, adaptable creatures and are able to live in many environments. This rat was pristine, with no visible injuries. It was just dead. Was this rat a symbol of my day job, the rat race of my everyday? Could it mean that my writing was suffering because of the day job’s overbearing presence?

I have a book at home called Animal Speak by Ted Andrews. A passage in Mr. Andrews’s segment on rats I found intriguing:

“If a rat has shown up as a totem, you may find yourself getting more restless. It may indicate a time to be more shrewd in all of your dealings. Are you handling the pests in your life properly? Do you need to become more adaptable? It may even reflect a time to more aggressively pursue endeavors for success. The behavior of the rat when you see it will help you to determine the kind of energy it specifically brings to you.”

Now, many are thinking I’m a nut. How could a dead rat on the side of the road mean anything other than what it is. I just know how I felt when I saw it. I had been on the cusp of quitting my day job for at least a year, probably more. When I saw this rat, lying dead at the side of the road, a path I had walked for months, I knew what I had to do. And over the next three days I gathered my courage.

Now it’s done. I have two weeks until my writing will finally take center stage. I’m excited by this, but also a little scared. Either way, I’ll do my best and venture forth into a new career as writer.

Since 1992, Lee has worked within the visual and dramatic arts landscape as a graphic designer, illustrator, visual effects artist, screenwriter and author.

Leave a comment