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Why do this NOW?
In the last few weeks, I’ve had a couple people ask me why, at 60 years old, I’ve embarked on a new career…or actually TWO new careers. This week I’ve decided to lay out just why I decided to begin screen and voice acting. It’s not a simple answer and has several layers; but this week I’ll talk about one in particular that has weighed on my lately.
I don’t NEED to work
Probably the main reason people wonder to me about why I’ve started something new at my age is that with two retirements and a comfortable retirement account, they know I don’t really need to work to be survive. To be frank, if this was just about money, I wouldn’t do it. I am in the enviable position of never having to be a “starving artist”. Which is good, because starting out I’d need a second (maybe a third) job to pay the mortgage, buy food and pay for all the other things we need to pay for to stay out of bankruptcy.
Money isn’t everything
Yeah, I know, it’s easy for someone who doesn’t need an income to say that, but there is definite truth to it. Don’t get me wrong, money is important and necessary. Most of us, and if you are reading this, I assume you are among them (I mean, internet is not at the top of the necessity list after all), have become quite accustomed to having a roof over our heads and food on the table at a minimum. But, if all you are focused on in your career is money, then trust me, work will grind you to a pulp.
I know from experience
Here’s what I did, if you are an adult with a family, your story MAY be similar. I graduated High school in 1979 and yeah, I KNOW that was a long time ago. I should add “barely” ahead of graduated in that last sentence. There was no college in MY future, and I didn’t really have a skill I could “sell” to an employer. I was going nowhere, and I was sure to arrive pretty quickly. Sure, I had a job – well, two jobs really; one in a body shop and one in a machine shop – But they were that, jobs, not careers with promising futures and potential for advancement. So, I enlisted in the Navy.
Good and bad.
Enlisting was good; I got a skill and lots of experience…and that’s all good. But I was also away from home a LOT chasing that next promotion and more money. If you are at all familiar with military salaries in the 70’-90’s, you may understand why. But as soon as I retired, I went right back to work for the navy chasing – you guessed it – the next promotion, and again, that meant being the guy who spent a lot of time on the road. I missed a lot of special occasions, although unlike some, I was fortunate enough to be home for the birth of my kids. Conception too, but that’s another kind of Navy story for another time.
So why start ANOTHER career then?
Yeah, I get it none of the previous text has anything to do really with starting a third career. There are a couple reasons, really: I love it, it’s challenging, it’s on MY time, the people you meet are exceptional, and hey, being on TV or in a movie or on the local radio is just plain COOL! The least of the reasons is to make a little scratch, but definitely NOT the least is to leave something of a legacy for my kids…maybe to help make up for all the time I missed.
A slight detour…
To help explain what I mean by a legacy, and why it’s important to me, I need to tell you a little story about my family. Like many others (sadly including my kids), I come from a broken home. That’s important only to make my next statement not seem quite as random. As an adult I had a good relationship with my mom, and finally developed a relationship (ultimately a good one) with my dad. After all the drama as a kid, it wound up good. But then I lost both mom and dad within a year of one another in 2011 and 2012.
But dad (unknowingly) left me a legacy
Not long before dad passed, I was going to school nights for a degree I thought would get me the next promotion, or at least open the door to it. One of the Gen-Ed requirements was history, so I took a class in 20th century American History. Fun, now that I’m older I kinda like history – probably since history today is more like memories of my life I suppose. Anyway, the capstone assignment was to interview someone who lived through a historic event in the 20th century. As my dad was a WWII veteran, and never wanted to talk about the war, I interviewed him.
When I interviewed him, I was away on travel for work, so needed to do the interview over the phone. Since I was writing a final paper about the conversation, and my handwriting is horrible, I decided to record it so I could refer to it later. In the end, I simply decided to transcribe the entire conversation – and the professor loved it. A+, YEA! But even better than that grade, today I can “talk” to my dad anytime I want to by listening to that recording. Which I do periodically when I have something I would have liked to talk to him about. His voice soothes me so I can think through whatever it is. It’s his legacy to me (and he probably forgot all about the conversation as soon as he hung up the phone).
And that brings us back around…
All that long winded-ness to say that part, no small part, of why I do this is to leave something for my kids to look at or listen to later after I am gone. Maybe being able to “be there” with them, even peripherally will make up for all the time I spent away from them while I was chasing the next big raise…I don’t know…but it will probably be cool to watch or hear something and be able to say “Hey, that’s my dad”.
Here’s what I learned, possibly a little late…
I told myself forever that chasing the money was so I could better take care of my kids, and in many ways that’s not a lie, exactly. But today I think maybe being home with them more would have better cared for them. I’ve seen it said on social media lately that “You’re killing yourself for a job that would replace you within a week if you dropped dead.”, which is maybe what prompted me to write this, but it strikes a chord with me.
Don’t get me wrong…
I realize you have to eat, and then there are those pesky vacations that have to be paid for. I’m not suggesting you stop working. I’m suggesting you find something you enjoy doing, that pays well enough and gives you flexibility with your time. I suggest not ALWAYS being the guy that volunteers for the travel assignments, or the overtime or whatever you think will make you seem more “promotable”. In the end, you’ll get the money you were chasing, but your kids will be grown, gone and chasing THEIR fortunes…just when you have time for them.
Please don’t misunderstand. My kids are great and I am NOT complaining that they don’t spend enough time with me…they do…I’m just moaning about the time I missed with them that can’t be gotten back. (I have to say this because some of them actually read this blog and may be feeling like this is a one way ticket to a guilt trip – it’s not – I love you guys!).