Skip to main content

Open Letter to an Old Friend Who Will Probably Never See This

Somewhere in the background cue balls shattered another intricately racked 8-ball formation while tipsy chatter veiled hushed conversations like so much smoke from so many cigarettes. Sometime during the night, the bartender switched every glass holding alcohol into cheap, red plastic cups. It was a not-so-subtle tell that last call was coming soon. Somewhere in the background, the jukebox wailed a Van Morrison tune.

Three out of the four of us were packing up our equipment while the fourth, our intrepid leader, talked business with the owner of this establishment over in the corner. Our home base was one block up so there was no car pack. Some of us smoked and played air hockey waiting for our fourth to arrive. Our leader was probably lining up future gigs and getting a clearer picture of where we would play next. Our band was hard working, loud and melodic, completely occupied by drunk idiots and had, on several, fleeting occasions, the potential to become a mainstay on the local circuit. In a few minutes we'd be on our way to an all-night diner to soak up an evening's share of cheap keg-beer rotting our stomachs. We'd eat, we'd laugh, we'd commiserate because tonight was a special night. Tonight was our official first paying gig as a band.

"Alright guys, let's head out," said our leader upon his return. That last little bit of warm beer still swirled in my cup. "Dude!" I said as we collected ourselves, "We got paid, right?"
"Dude," he countered, "you're drinking it," glancing down at the red cup in my hand. No actual money exchanged hands.

In the short time that we were together, I caught a small taste of what it was like to work independently and have it be meaningful; to be a contractor of sorts. Up until and even years and years afterwards, I have always blindly burdened myself with the notion that in order to become successful, you needed to work for someone else. Perhaps that's what my motivation was when I decided to become an actor (although I would probably never admit it at the time)? I went to school to learn acting as a craft, even headed to New York, only waking up many years later finding myself floating from one dead end job to another and moving further and further away from what I set out to do. In the short time that we were together, I knew what it was like to love what you do. A few months later, we disbanded.

Years later, you call me up out of the blue to catch up. It was a welcome surprise. It was also a welcome surprise in the years that followed where we'd talk as if decades haven't passed. The first time we caught up, you told me that you made a break for the west coast. You said you started out working in a coffee shop but you couldn't see yourself lasting as a barrista and you made that leap into the unknown and formed a band. A band that stayed together for a while, went on tour, released a few albums, achieved a measure of success. But that wasn't enough for you, you started another band, even went solo for a while, and eventually started your own company. Every step you took brought you further into happiness and well being and every time I thought about this, I could not help being slightly jealous.

I was jealous of the fact that you got your life together. I was jealous of the fact that everything seemed to work out for you. But here's the real kicker, it's not just you. I cannot help but feel at least slightly jealous of the people I know that had the bravery to step off of the treadmill. Of which there are quite a few. I only bring this up now because I think I figured it out.

I have always blindly burdened myself with the notion that in order to become successful, you needed to work for someone else. Up until recently, this is an infallible rule for me. I have discovered that this is not necessarily the case. Success is not measured by loyalty. It is measured on what you do you with the time that is presented to you. I am in my mid-forties now and the echoes of our band are still noticeable these many years later. For my birthday this year, I got laid-off. This would be a bigger shock to the system if this hasn't happened to me before, or if I was younger and more ambitious to take over the world. But, I'm much older and wiser than that guy in that band. That time you called me out of the blue, you said, "if I don't do this now, I don't think I'll ever get the chance again." It's been many years since you said that to me. It just now finally started to sink in. Now, I realize that I might be better off being my own boss rather than spending most of my life trying to find one. Now I realize that following your dreams and doing what you love aren't just catch phrases to sell self help books and greeting cards, it might be a viable alternative. Because as it stands right now, it might be my only option. If I don't do this now, I don't think I'll ever get the chance again. I get it now.

And I am no longer jealous.

Fear would destroy me every time I lost my job because I didn't see any alternative to punching a time clock. It was either work crap jobs for crappier pay or oblivion.These days, I will gladly take that fear and have it motivate me to do the things that I love because now I see the alternative from a different perspective. The jobs are more scarce, they say companies are hiring but it sounds like folklore, like myth. I woke up recently and decided that I still have a craftsman's heart. I have the drive and ambition, the money will come later once I figure out how to get paid from it. I get it now. I thank you for planting that seed in my head years ago.

Namaste, old friend. I hope all is well with you. Look me up sometime, these days I have plenty of time to spare.

Photo Credit:

Popular posts from this blog

The Strays of Hotel Pine St. Part 2


Another November has come calling to our Hotel. In an ideal world, it would be as quaint as a Grandma Moses painting this time of year; everyone all snug and cozy in their idyllic, New England scenery and stiff linen shirts while somewhere a hearth was burning bright against the impending gloom that was lumbering in from the top left corner of the canvas. But for our little building in our little neighborhood, we had to make do with what was offered.

Being an old building, every corner and joint, everywhere where wood met wood, there was air escaping through it. Fortunately, air conditioning is a foreign concept for many of the historical buildings in Maine. A cool breeze was a good friend to have in July, but by November, he has worn out his welcome. Drafty. But, as time went on, you eventually got used to the klunk-klunk-klunk of the window in the living room that was dangling by sheer will itself every time a breeze wanted to let itself out. You eventually didn't not…

So Glad You Asked (Warning: Contains Lame Top 5 List)

There are a dozen things on my plate that are begging for my attention at the moment; not least of which is trying to find gainful employment.
I just bought stacks of index cards this weekend, so I'm pretty serious about writing Chapter 2 and beyond for my current piece of fiction. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.I have to finish a company logo for a re-launching of one of my brands. I love the process, but designing is still “French As a Second Language” type of thing for me. Left to my own devices, something that should take minutes takes hours.There are courses that I started weeks ago and have yet to finish; Not because they're boring, which they are, but because I have begun to question the validity of such an endeavor to begin with. I'm I helping myself, or am I kidding myself? And cooking and cleaning and on and on... Oh, and not to mention that something had better change for the good soon because I'm going to be welcoming another child into my …

With Apologies To Crosley Owners (A Brief Overview of the Crosley C200A)

Let's talk about fandoms for a minute.

Fandoms usually revolve around a particular celebrity, fictional character or pop culture staple. Fandoms have been around for as long as anyone can remember, and seem to have a direct correlation to serialized fiction: Turn of the Century fans of  "Sherlock Holmes":: Present day fans of "Game of Thrones".

At their best, fandoms could boost an economy, foreshadow a direction in which a society is headed, and cultivate new paradigms and metrics in which we as consumers purchase things.

At their worst, they're a dense jungle filled with big animals with big teeth who look at you as a nice little snack.

Actually, that's not true. Uummmm...

At their worst, they're a gauntlet of San Quintin lifers, and it's your first day in the slam, and they're all looking at you like you're a nice little snack...

...holy hell, where did that come from? Okay, one more time...

At their worst, they are a society of unwa…