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It’s interesting how “perspective” changes over your life…
I’m not real sure when I went from feeling like I was “faking it”, to when I truly felt that I had an objective perspective that could rationally shape my decisions. But somewhere along the line, it happened. It took 50+ years and countless screw-ups and missteps, but I think now that I view life situations more detached, with both the optimism & wonder of my youth and the reality & wisdom of my life experience.
The topic of this post has to do with money, but maybe it’s more about choices and perspective. If you’re like me, money is always in the back of my mind. Even when I have enough, it’s still there, lurking somewhere in my subconscious. If you’re younger than 30, maybe pay attention? I’m going to try to give you a pearl here, so stay with me. As a kid, we always had enough… probably more than enough. We never wanted anything that we couldn’t have… and while I’m sure it wasn’t as rosy as I remember, that was a credit to my Mom and Dad and all they did for us.
My personal relationship with money was a tenuous one. I always worked… back to the morning newspaper route delivering the Democrat & Chronicle in Fairport, NY with my older brother at 13, to my first job alongside Ronald MacDonald when I was 16. I never had a ton, but always figured it out. I always rationalized that there were things more important than money. “I just want enough that I don’t have to care about it.” Sounds logical… right? But how much is that?
Both my brother and sister have a much more amenable relationship with money than I. This isn’t to imply that they don’t work hard or they don’t deserve their successes. I give them both all the credit. They both are much smarter, practical, and successful than I am financially. I’m much more emotional, flighty, naïve and prone to impulse. I view money as a replaceable tool… and I’ve probably carelessly squandered much more professionally and financially than they have. (Not something that’s easy for me to admit…)
But I’ve also come to realize that, “Money” and “Work” often have very little to do with each other. “Work” can sometimes be hard to find, while “Money” is everywhere. “Work” is getting up at 3am to deliver newspapers with your car as a 35yr old husband and father of 2, before going to your “real” job. “Work” is deciding that a “real job” is more important than chasing that silly dream of being an “artist.” After all, “you’ve got bills to pay.” “Money” is what you’re compensated with. And the value of that compensation… your work and sacrifice, are often subjective.
These days, money isn’t elusive, but it’s not exactly lying around either. The lean times have left their imprint on me. I still visit the dollar store for certain items that I just can’t bring myself to purchase elsewhere. I still stop and look at the “clearance” table… and I have only in the last few years come to a point where I purchase really good Bourbon, as opposed to whatever is cheapest. Life is too short… right? (“Thank you, My Love…”)
This is where my life-tested perspective & supposed wisdom comes into focus. I realize now that “what” you do in your career is much more important than what it monetarily pays you at that moment. In my life, I repeatedly chose the immediate and practical choice.
I recently saw a clip online of Jim Carrey. He was giving a commencement speech at a University. (I highly recommend you YouTube it.) He shares a lesson that he learned watching his father. His Dad made a rational career choice and didn’t chase his dreams. He made the “safe” choice, choosing to put his family before his dreams, and took a job as an accountant. Carrey shares that this worked out, until the day his father lost that “safe job.” The lesson?
“You can fail at doing what you don’t want… so you might as well take a chance at doing what you LOVE.”
That’s why I’m an artist.
I would now rather flounder and struggle and fight doing what I love than just go along, treading water, risking failure at what I don’t. Don’t get me wrong… I’ve hedged my bets and I still do the practical thing, and I’ve had more than my share of failures at what I don’t want. But here is the point… Here’s the pearl of wisdom…
“If you have a dream and passion for something, then GO FOR IT.”
If you’ve been coasting along in the real world, but you have something your heart says you should be doing… GO FOR IT. If you love movies, make your own… or write film critiques or film appreciations of the films you love. If you love to cook, document your recipes, your successes and your flops, go work for the most talented and successful Chefs you can find. If you love Soccer, like my son, go be a ball boy for the L.A. Galaxy. Get around the thing you love to be around… and be happy in the moment being around what you love. You can fail at the thing you choose for your fallback position… you may as well enjoy the ride along the way.
I always chose the fallback position. That’s fine. I don’t resent those decisions because I have a lot to show for them… 2 grown, incredible young adult kids come immediately to mind. And… those decisions shaped me into the wise, thoughtful, well informed individual that I am now. (He wrote, with a sarcastic smile)
I see that Money is just a tool. Art that I have created gives me more satisfaction and happiness than all the dollars that I made selling that art. (But I still like the $… don’t get me wrong) That’s probably why I love when people send me pictures of my work on their wall, or in the hands of the person who received it. I’ve come to believe that what you do to earn your living will give you more joy, if you choose something you love, than all the money you make along the way.
I hope Jim Carrey’s words hit you like a ton of bricks.
“You can fail at what you don’t want… so you may as well take a chance at doing what you LOVE.”
…I LOVE being an Artist. I’m so glad I finally stopped waiting until… “the time was right” or until “my ducks are in a row” or until “I have more free time”. I’m not there yet… but I’m enjoying the ride.
What about YOU? Do you have a dream to explore? Are you making decisions out of fear and practicality? Don’t wait any longer. GO FOR IT.
With well over 100 career touchdown receptions ranking #2 All-Time in career Receptions… and one of the classiest individuals you’ll ever meet… the incomparable, Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals.
A little something different. This 11″x17″ Pen & Ink, Graphite and Watercolor Art features New York Jets Wide Receiver, Brandon Marshall going high for a catch. This Art is from Phoenix-based Artist, Ed West. For more art from Ed, or to purchase some of his work, go to www.edwest.org.