Thursday, January 19, 2017

Friendly stranger says I'm inspirational

I wonder if it’s too late for me to bid on any of the presidential likenesses from last week’s Gettysburg Wax Museum auction.

I’d like to acquire one of the cheaper, less accomplished presidents to occupy my office chair when I’m not here. The dummy — and I’m referring to the wax surrogate — would appear to thoughtfully gaze out the window overlooking the intersection at the town’s one traffic light.

I’m thinking maybe James Buchanan.

I intend to do this because it’s becoming increasingly apparent my office visibility has made me a sort of beacon for morning commuters as they pass the Tin Lizzy. Eyeballs are automatically drawn to the lone, brightly lit, third floor office and the unkempt man sitting there with his head bowed as if in prayer.

And there’s an element of prayer to everything I’m doing.

I’m praying I’ll write something great, that solvency beckons and that my entire career hasn’t been one big mistake.

Friends have told me they see me up here. So I’m aware I’m being watched and behave accordingly.

I try and project confidence, maintain good posture and I always step away from the window when nasal impediments require me to jam a farmer in the booger barn. I try not to look like a slob, or do anything anyone would confuse with inspirational.

It’s another failure because apparently that’s just what I’ve been doing.

I received this e-mail from a 24-year-old passersby who enjoys the blog.

“Most mornings on my way to work I see you in your office above the Tin. Shortly after, I find myself walking down a never-ending grey hallway to my small grey cubical surrounded by grey walls. Constantly inundated with idle grey conversation by middle aged corporate cogs who have harnessed grey as the fiber of their very being.

“If I spend another 30 years in a corp-landia, will I become grey as well? Will my real passions creep so far away until I can't find them again? Will my job title become the only way I define myself?”

He says he’s got a good, stress-free job, but “it is so damn repetitive and each second staring at a spreadsheet sucks a little more creativity from my body.”

“When I see you writing up in your office, it instills in me a sense of peace. I think it is absolutely awesome that you turned your passion into your job. Thank you for your writing!”

Well, when I hear anything as touching as that, I right away think of two people: Bob Dylan and my wife. Dylan wrote the most apropos line about what it’s like to do what I do, which is essentially squat:

If you don’t believe there’s a price
For this sweet paradise
Just remind me to show you the scars

Now, Val, she’d be more voluble, not to mention profane. Being married to me gives her anything but a sense of peace.

Am I inspirational? Would I do it all over again?


I say that with the understanding that if it never pays off many will find me guilty of living a wholly selfish life.

I won’t see it that way. 

I’m not hallucinating the soulful reactions to my blog, my books and my talks. People really dig what I do.

And my life has been a near-perfect joy. The only thing missing is the one thing my grey-fearing friend has in spades: a stable income.

Of course, I know many men and women who once thought they had career stability and are being downsized into starting over — at age 50.

In my “Crayons!” talks, I always include the advice to “do something you love to do each and every day just because it’s something you love to do each and every day.”

It’s so simple, so accessible and so easy to overlook. It could be painting, playing with a cat, tinkering with a model railroad in your basement or reading a cheerful book to a tiny human being.

Life’s about finding balance, something I’ll apparently never experience because I have no intention of quitting what I’m doing or how I’m doing it.

I believe true success is just around the corner. I’ve believed that every day since I quit my last job in, gulp, 1992.

History proves there is undeniable merit when cheerful persistence combines with foundational experience.

Those are just some of the thoughts I intend to share with my new friend over many hours of philosophizing beers, something else I enjoy doing daily.

Either way, there’s bound to be a great big dummy in the window of the third floor at the Tin Lizzy.

And one of them might be wax.

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