Howard Thurman (1899-1981) was an author, educator, African-American leader and was a prominent figure during the American Civil Rights movement. His books on philosophy and theology were a major influence on Martin Luther King Jnr.

Having an Asian background (although I’m born and bred in Australia), I know what it’s like to be pressured into getting good grades at school, going to University and moving on to a nice, respectable career (I’m not saying all Asian parents are academically obssessed, but I have seen a lot of it growing up). I’m thankful that my parents weren’t too controlling (they briefly wanted me to be an architect since I was good at drawing, but I quickly talked them out of that crazy idea. All those straight lines and math … I shudder just thinking about it!). However, I do know quite a few friends that were forced into careers they weren’t passionate about. Then after working in their field for a few years they realise, ‘Hold on, I actually hate this!’. Even though I chose to be a graphic designer, I was never passionate about it and I felt exactly the same a year ago.

Finally, I decided to change and do something that made me feel alive (you know, drawing stuff) and it has been the best decision I’ve ever made. And what’s even more unbelievable is that the thing that makes me feel alive has actually helped others make the same decision. I’ve had emails from readers who have made positive changes in their lives after visiting this blog. The quotes and comics have inspired them to either make a career change, pick-up a hobby or even just re-evaluate their life. And that has been the biggest reward to come out of Zen Pencils (besides the groupies). I would have never in a million years thought my cartoons would be capable of having such an impact. I’ll be featuring a few of these readers in the next Reader of the Month post so stay tuned to read their great stories.

– Many thanks to Gale, Timothy and Melody for submitting this quote.
– Strangely, this quote is often misattributed to a ‘Harold Whitman’, a totally made-up name.