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The Light At the End of the Tunnel
Sess and Rin under the stars

I’m a grunt, Sam. You’re not. You’ve always been the brains of this operation. And you told me yourself that you see a way out. You see a light at the end of this ugly-ass tunnel. I don’t. But I tell you what I do know is that I’m gonna die with a gun in my hand. Cuz that’s what I have waiting for me, and that’s all I have waiting for me. I want you to get out. I want you to have a life. Become a Men of Letters, whatever. You, with a wife and kids and grandkids, living ‘til you’re fat and bald and chugging Viagra. That is my perfect ending. And it’s the only one that I’m gonna get.” ---Dean Winchester, “Trial and Error”

Trial and Error,” struck a nerve deep inside me. Both brother's speeches said something to me, and outside of the story itself, I find myself still processing it days later. That's the thing about this show. Supernatural reaches deep inside me and shifts things around, making me think and feel and see things differently than before watching it. That's what makes this show so profound and powerful to me.

Before discovering Supernatural, I was rather content with my life---mostly. I got up, went to work, came home, and did it again the next day. I didn't have much in terms of aspirations or goals in mind. I was working full time and making money. It was safe, stable, and I could just float in its simplicity with little effort. After finding this show, I continually find myself wanting something more. Certainly a TV show shouldn't have that type of impact, but this one did. The world became bigger---and I realized slowly that I should explore it.

Dean's speech, in many ways, speaks to my life as it is now. Without getting into the nitty gritty details, I find myself in a dead end job with no clear path out. I, like Dean, can't quite see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if I know that it has to be there, somewhere. While I don't have someone like Sam in my life---someone that I want the best for, so many I know are either doing well or are pursuing their dreams successfully. I am happy for them, taking joy in their success and supporting them in their endeavors, but I can't help but feel a bit stagnant myself.

Sometimes, I feel like I'll be at my current job twenty years from now still doing the same thing with little hope to advance or go somewhere. Sometimes, I feel very much like the grunt Dean professes himself to be. I'm not paid to think. I'm paid to do as told, to bow to a corporate will, and do things in a uniform manner. It leaves me feeling trapped. When I look at my coworkers, as nice as they are, I shudder to think that I will become like them, forever running in the same treads, doing the same menial tasks, chasing my own proverbial tail.

Sometimes, I really feel that this job is all I'll ever have, and I am extremely envious of anyone that manages to get out.

Like Dean, I also know that I'm fairly good at my job. I know little secrets, short cuts, and what's expected. I also know that no one really seems to know what I do---which both brothers are very familiar with. Not many know what they do or how they've saved the world countless times. In the “French Mistake,” Dean says, “We're not actors. We're hunters. We're the Winchesters. Always have been, and always will be.And where we're from, people don't know who we are.”

So often, I go to work, know what tasks are to be done, only to have everyone around me clueless to what my job actually entails. It adds to the frustration, making me feel quite often even more trapped. As no one else ever seems to know just what I do, they pile extras on---making me feel even more like the grunt. No matter how many times I try to explain that to bosses or other coworkers, that never changes, either.

There's a light at the end of the tunnel. I know there is. I know there's a path waiting for me, but in the darkness I just can't seem to see it. I have floundered, as both brothers have in the past, and I sometimes find it very hard to keep my head above water.

But then, then Sam said this: "I want to slam Hell shut too, OK. But I want to survive it. I want to live. And so should you. You have friends up here, family. I mean hell, you even got your own room now. You were right, OK.I see the light at the end of this tunnel. And I'm sorry you don't. I am. But it's there. And if you come with me, I can take you to it. You're not a grunt, Dean. You're a genius. When it comes to lore, to.. You're the best damn Hunter I have ever seen. Better than me, better than Dad. I believe in you, Dean, so please, please believe in me too."

Hearing him say this made me remember that I am not a grunt. Despite feeling that way quite often while at work, and getting the measly paycheck to go with it, I know I'm more. Even in the darkest of times, I need to remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel waiting for me. I will not become like my coworkers.

In 2006 I earned a BA in Creative Writing. Practical? Probably not, but since the age of 6 I knew what I wanted to do, even if I didn't---and still don't---know how to make that into a career. I have loved stories, reading them, writing them, talking about them, and revisiting the ones that have moved me the most. I love story in any form I can get it: book, TV show, movie, play, whatever. I think it is often looked upon as fluff, as nonsense, as a waste of time, but to me story teaches me about life, about what it means, and why I'm here. Story makes my life worthwhile, rather I'm analyzing another's story or writing my own.

In 2011, I started writing a novel. I finished it in 2012, on a deadline. Oh no, not a publisher's deadline, one that was self imposed for a special reason. I had written my book for Jared Padalecki. I was single minded, focused on getting the best draft together as quickly as possible so I could pull off this amazing feat. At Chicago Con, I did what I had set out to do. I gave it to him. Of course, I included contact information on the off chance that he A) kept my book and B) wanted to tell me what he thought---even if that turns out to be “I hated this tripe.”

The whole experience, from writing, to editing, to getting it bound professionally (I highly recommend Smith Publishing), to getting it in Jared's hands, was exhilarating. It gave me purpose in the morning when I woke up and something to look forward to when I went to bed at night. Sure, I wanted to give this book to Jared because it felt right and because I hoped, maybe a little, that he would like it enough to want to make it into the film I envision it being someday, but I mostly found the experience rewarding because I was creating something. I started with nothing, found a glimmer of an idea, and made something out of it. The finished product, the one I gave to Jared, is a solid piece---albeit in need of some tweaking---but I am immensely proud of it, outside of handing it to Jared. It is mine and no one else's and I had proven to myself that I could do more than scan items mindlessly all day.

It was a rush, giving it to him, and a relief that the burden of completing it was now lifted. I took some time off from writing, working on the book, and indulged in watching TV, reading other books, watching movies, being a bit lazy.

I know realize that was a mistake. Without realizing it, I have found myself slipping back into being the grunt. I may have given this book to Jared---but what now? It was still largely just a book in a file on my computer or tucked in a box with only a few eyeballs ever having read it. Essentially, what had been a crowning achievement had become utterly useless in a few short months.

I quickly went back to work, doing the same things I've always done, for the crap pay. I slipped back into doing the best job I could do with little aspiration to do more. I don't know what to do with this book. I never learned about publishing, and right now I'm in a very dark place with no light at the end of the tunnel. I got Dean's statement there, and while story wise there's oh so much going on there for him, in terms of my own life it makes total sense. I am a bit trapped, and I almost fear that in so many ways working the same job is the best I'll ever do.

But Sam's speech struck a deeper nerve in me. It's why, even now days after completing my review, and seeing the episode a handful of times that I still ball when I read it or watch it. Sam's speech reminded me of what could be---if only I'd let it happen.

I don't have a clue as how to get my book out to the world. Not one. I don't even know how many more drafts it'll take for it to get published. One more? Two more? A hundred? But I do know, from hearing Sam's speech, that my book is the light at the end of the tunnel. It's the very thing that must guide me out—-and I have to let it do that. My book, regardless of me giving it to Jared, deserves to see the world and the world to see it.

Sam's speech reminded me that I must believe in myself, too. It reminded me that, even though I can't see that light, it's there, dim in the darkness. It's waiting for me to fan its flames, make it illuminate the path, and help me to understand that I am not a grunt---that I am the genius.

Sure, this was about Sam and Dean, these speeches both spoke to their mind sets, their perspectives, and talked about their particular situation in a TV show---but that's what makes Supernatural more than just a TV show. It can reach inside us, shift something fundamental around, and change us for the better. It can guide us out, lead us to that light at the end of the tunnel, and tell us to apply those lessons in our own lives.

Now I just need to follow my light, reach my end of the tunnel---but I also know that I can't do it alone.

It's why, after seeing this episode, I am making sure I take that first important step to following that dimly lit path. I will begin reaching out, finding those that can help me turn my novel into a reality. I have Supernatural to thank for that.

For that, I am forever grateful to it and everyone who has ever worked on it.