"Your cage is made of sticks, brother; just kick it apart"
Forest Wizard, in"Storytelling," Adventure Time
I think it is interesting from what unexpected places our inspiration can be drawn. My new novel, Flagg, was heavily inspired by a game of Call of Cthulhu that I played with a few friends a long time ago. An image stayed with me all these years, of a man holding two guns: one on an undead creature, and one on a man who was, up to that moment, his friend.
For the game, I named the man Jack Flagg, after the Pumpkin King from The Nightmare Before Christmas and the villain from Stephen King's The Stand. In my novel, I dropped the Jack part, and kept the Flagg part, and made it part of his history that he adopted the name from a novel he had read. I don't know why this image stayed with me all of these years while most didn't. It doesn't matter really. It wasn't until years later, after listening to a particularly terrible piece of pop trash music that I got the main premise of the novel. It doesn't make sense that it should happen like this, but then again, it doesn't really have to. I try to not ask too many questions, lest I dispel whatever magic I have been operating under.
The quote that opens this piece is from a cartoon called Adventure Time. The show is great wackytown fun, and I love the hell out of it; it fits my strange brand of humor and weirdness perfectly. I'm not sure why the quote stuck with me. In the show it is thrown out as a one-off piece of silliness. The hero, Finn, was trapped in a cage of sticks, and didn't think of the solution to his escape until after the situation was resolved.
I think it is secretly profound.
Whenever I come up against fear, of the unknown, of failure, whenever I am uncertain that I am making the right decisions, and it threatens to freeze me into inaction, and this is true, I think of that stupid ass cartoon quote, and go for it.
Your cage is made of sticks.
It is a silly line from a very goofy, albeit fun, children's cartoon. But think of it. Apply it. It represents a realization that you are not trapped in anything; you just might not be able to see the solution because of your fear, because you are panicking, because you just need a moment to breathe, to think.
Just kick it apart.
I am not making this up, I swear. I was looking at a contract for the publication of my first novel, and I was afraid. I was signing a legal document that represented literally hundreds of hours of my care and work going out of my hands and into someone else's. I, a grown man with a college degree, and children under my care, thought to myself, "Your cage is made of sticks, brother; just kick it apart." And I signed the contract.
It doesn't matter that it came from a cartoon, it doesn't matter that the idea for Flagg came from a game of semi-grown up make-believe.
Listen: It does not matter.
If you are inspired to do your thing, all you have to realize is that it is only yourself that can stop you. We all have justifications and bullshit excuses, I know; believe me, I have a bunch. As a matter of fact, if you need some of mine, I'll give 'em to you, I have plenty to spare. But if we are being honest we know that they are all lies. Maybe sometimes you might need the Forest Wizard to point it out to you, but you just need to remember:
"Your cage is made of sticks, brother; just kick it apart."
And then do your thing.