:: Life on Planet Dan-E ::

Thoughts, observations, and introspections from an art student waiter/bartender in South Beach. Arcane humor ensues.
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:: Thursday, August 03, 2006 ::

:: When I Grow Up ::
... I wanted to be:

President of the United States: Ages 5 - 6
Garbage Truck Driver: 6 1/2 - 7
Artist: 7 - 9
Fighter Pilot: 9 - 12
Painter: 12-14
Pretty much anything other than what my parents wanted: 15 - 18
Professional Tennis Player: Somewhere in that 15 - 18 period
Personal Trainer: 18 - 19
Graphic Design: 19 - 22
Web Design: 23 (for about a month)
Physical Therapist: 2 months
Personal trainer (again): 1 month
Law Enforcement: 24 (again, about a month)
Illustrator: 24-28
Seminary: 30 minutes.
Art Director: 28 - 30
Copywriter: about 3 months
Sports Writer: another month
Art Director: 30 - current
Bartender: in case advertising bores me

I ripped off this blog post idea from my kid brother's blog (no, I'm not telling you where it is). I found his post revealing in that I used to wonder why I opted out of law to become a college professor. (It was a decision that I was always proud of him for making; choosing personal fulfillment over big paycheck.) If you read my blog for a while, you know I always touted him as the smart one in the family - he graduated from Boston College in FOUR years with BOTH a Bachelor's and Master's in Philosophy. (He's also the good looking one and the athletic one. Me, I'm...well, the Black Sheep.)

And being the philosophical type he wrote this about his choice:

I realized that law was not what I wanted. Not even close. It was someone else's dream. My parents? Society? Friends? I don't know. But I do know it wasn't mine. Choosing a profession unfortunately has very little to do with what we want. It is all about what we need, what we think we need, what we think we should have, and what others want for us. As a result, we willingly submit ourselves to jobs and careers that we don't enjoy for the sake of that paycheck, that financial security, that "honoring" of the parents, that whatever. And we justify ourselves by saying, "It ain't that bad", "At least I don't hate my job like the brother over there", or "I'll get used to it".

I mentioned he's the smart one, right? It's true though. And I'm fairly impressed with how he seems to have learned this at a relatively young age (24. By the way, I sometimes wonder if it must be awkward for his students since half of them are older than he is). I had the same "there has to be more to life than work" mentality at that age but unlike him, mine came from a lack of direction. I was, at that point, a fairly low point in my life. I was tired of bickering with my parents about my future, trying to finish college, and working a job that wasn't what I thought it would be. (Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I learned that early on but I still wish I made a little money beforehand. You know, like normal people.)

Everything changed that August, when my kid brother moved to Boston. The parental pressure eased up. It's almost like finally having a child that would actually amount to something in life gave them a feeling of having something to show for being parents. I never caved into that pressure. Sure at one point I may have wanted to make my parents proud but, what about me? There's what my bro wrote but I took it one step further: if I chose what my parents wanted (engineer, medicine, law, business) sure they'd be proud but what's left of my life once they're dead? Sure they'd be looking down on me, still proud, but what good does heavenly pride do for those that are still living?

(That's one of many reasons why I'm sure my parents won't approve of any woman I date since what they want and what I want - what good does it do me if they're happy when I'm the one that has to live with her? - are two very different things; but that's another post. And if you think this is because of spite or lingering bitterness, you're wrong. I'm too old to consider either of those things.)

Since then I've been virtually free to pursue my future as I see fit and I've found fulfillment in other places. I only read books I want to. I went to Mexico with a friend's church to help build houses. I learned how to play guitar. I make a great Shrimp Marsala. (Just ask The Girlfriend.) And I finally figured what I want to do and moved to Miami to go to school for it. Three years later my parents are, if not exactly proud, relieved that I found direction. Sure, they want me to quit being a waiter and start my "real" job but, whatever. (And don't ever tell me that being a waiter isn't a "real" job. If you're one of those that think so, I defy you to try it out for two weeks. You won't last three days.)

But what happens when I finally get that job as an Art Director? I did it for three months in Prague and it really is something I enjoy doing. But just because of who I am I have a tendency to think too much. Is it really what I want? What else could I be doing? Is it really worth it? What if, God forbid, my parents were right and I should have gone into law? (On second thought, NO.)

But it doesn't matter what I do, as long as I have other sources for fulfillment and a life outside of work. But here again, is where my kid bro articulates our common thoughts in writing far better than I ever could (did mention he's that smart one?):

Someone once told me that 'a profession is more than just something you can clock in and out of. It is a statement, a belief, a declaration of self. It is more than a paycheck, it is an affirmation of life. To view it as anything less is to sell yourself short.'

And we wonder why there is so much deadness and apathy in the world today? How can it be anything but that? If you exist unhappily, unfaithfully, and unenergetically for 8-9 hours a day, if not more, you can't expect to just snap out of it when you need or want to. It becomes you.

But let us be realistic. We are not a people of principle. If it's integrity or a hot meal, then integrity be damned. I gots to eat. There are no Roarks, only Keatings.

We may be walking around with full stomachs, but do not be confused. We are starving.

I have no idea who Roark or Keating is. Maybe he's going through a personal crisis that makes him feel a little down on everything. I don't know (we get along well but being seven years apart, we're not that close.) All I know is right now, life feels right. I may not be surrounded by food, but I'm far from starving.

:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 3:16 AM [+] :: | 0 comments

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