Unfortunately, I didn’t really start thinking about my thing until way after I realized I needed a thing. Who knew what coming up with a thing would mean to me later in life? Growing up, I realized that a lot of people had a thing, some surfed, some painted, and some ran for class president. Me? I was just trying to have fun. I dabbled in a lot of things but never really thought of one as mine. I liked photography (even won a few ribbons), played sports, and spent as much time with friends as humanly possible. My parents were into letting my brother and I do our own thing which I guess backfired since now I have no thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful wife and of course my daughter is the most amazing child on the planet. I’m a very happy and content individual; I just can’t help but wonder about my thing.
There are those people who are driven to do their thing. A singer may sleep on couches or even on the street hoping for a paying gig. Wannabe actors wait tables for a lifetime while trying to land just one decent role. I’ve never had a thing like that. It has never occurred to me to sacrifice the very basics for my thing. When I first got out of college I thought I wanted to be a film editor. I got my film degree and worked a couple of jobs as a tape operator and planned to work my way up. You know what? That pays shit. Thirty hours a week at ten bucks an hour doesn’t pay the bills. I did it for a year and then realized I needed to get a real job.
The thing about real jobs is that they generally suck just about as badly as being broke. No one loves putting on a suit, going in to the office, yapping on the phone, and pushing papers around all day. Sure, the bills get paid and you can have some material stuff but its pretty soulless living and to tell the truth, the average co-worker is a totally annoying cocknocker. Being a desk jockey is definitely not my thing.
There’s something about having a thing that defines a person. We’ve all had this conversation:
There goes that guy.
That guy, you know with the thing…
Dude, the guy with the thing! He does that thing with the thing!
Oh yeah! That guy rocks!
So what does someone do when they get to their mid-thirties and find themselves sans thing? Is there somewhere to go where you can take a test and they match you up with your thing? That would be sweet! “Who knew? This whole time I could have been charming snakes!” But what if you find your thing too late? At 34 I think I have no shot at becoming a champion bull rider and that just might be my thing. Could I coach bull riding? Be a mentor for young bull riders? Is there a rental bull for beginners?
I guess I could fake a thing. “Sorry, I can’t make it Saturday but you know I can’t skip my thing.” Or, I could take the easy route and say parenting is my thing. I believe I’m a great dad and I always put my family first, so could I just say I was meant to be a dad? Nah, I think if that were my thing I would have done a big brother program or something like that. Until I had my own kid, I didn’t really dig kids in general.
Here’s the thing: I think it’s going to come down to me being happy without a thing. I’ve gotten this far and things seem to be going pretty well for me. Sure, Olympic gold in that event where they cross country ski and shoot a bow and arrow would have been pretty cool but how the hell does anyone ever even find out that that’s their thing? The more I think about it, it’s almost like discovering your thing happens by accident and if you aren’t in the right place at the right time, you’re going to miss it.
At this point I’m willing to accept a tapas-like approach to life. I’ll enjoy many things in small portions and hopefully that coupled with a few big money Vegas weekends will prove to be just the thing. I could be wrong but being a well-rounded person is probably a hell of a lot easier than being a tortured artist or a fetish model. Playing with my daughter and reading a good book sounds infinitely better than being a slave to the burning desire to pop balloons with my ass. I guess I’ll never be the next American Idol but dammit, that’s a good thing!
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
9.29.04 @ 9:00a
At this point I’m willing to accept a tapas-like approach to life.
9.30.04 @ 11:16a
[i]Sure, the bills get paid and you can have some material stuff but its pretty soulless living ..[i]
Exactly what I'm going through. Am leading a soulless life despite having gotten a pay increment yesterday..... Hence the beauty in your choice of being a happy and content individual..one of the best things to choose to do in life.
9.30.04 @ 12:39p
Yeah, getting paid for doing what you love would be sweet but I just can’t figure out how to make that happen.
9.30.04 @ 6:37p
It's called the American Dream. And it doesn't exist.
9.30.04 @ 6:50p
The American Dream does exist. It is opportunity. There are no guarantees, and some people have advantages where opportunity is concerned, but life IS what you make it.
This series of happy cliches is brought to you by Juli McCarthy, Bf.D. and Mistress of the Universe.
9.30.04 @ 7:26p
Not really Juli. You’re thinking of devoting your life to your work and making a load of cash, an opportunity we all have. That sucks every bit as badly as being broke. The average business owner has a family who hates his guts for never being there. I’m talking about making decent money at something you can really be passionate about like teaching or playing shuffleboard with old people.
10.1.04 @ 12:45a
The other way is to make use of the decent money for something you have passion in. The only downside is you can enjoy what you like doing only on your own free time.