Sunday, November 21, 2010

The long and short of it

I previously posted about my so-called career as a freelance writer, and about how I abandoned the effort in favor of something by which I could support myself. Looking back, it would be easy to say that I made a decision for the short term - I chose a "real" job over my "true" calling - but I could also argue that it was a long term decision - I chose that real job so that at a later time I would be financially secure enough to pursue writing as an vocation. Of course, I'll be really pissed if I die before I have a chance to retire.

My daughter is at a similar turning point. She is a gifted photographer, but making a living at photography requires a lot of work spent not behind a camera but in chasing new business. In the current economic climate, that has become even more difficult, especially when everyone has a brother-in-law with a "good enough" digital camera who can take "good enough" pictures to convince the budget-minded bride that she does not need a professional. So she is contemplating alternatives.

I have no advice on this matter. Sometimes a crappy little job leads to bigger and better things and you discover abilities and interests you didn't know you had. Sometimes you follow your bliss and it emigrates. Most of us find something tolerable that pays well enough to raise a family and lets us live a life of relative comfort. The Oprahs and Marthas of the world try to make us feel bad about not living our "best" - our most perfect - life, but who is to say what is best for us?

If I make a list of the positives and negatives of my life, the first list is long, the second limited to my work, which in recent years has been boring and stressful. When I review decision points in my past, I sometimes regret the paths I've chosen along the way, but I also know why I chose those paths and even now can't fault that logic. There is no guarantee that a different fork would have resulted in a better life, only a different one, and maybe not all that different in the end because I would still have been me all along the way.

If something is important enough, we will find room for it. I may never write the Great American Novel, but I do write. My daughter may not become another Annie Leibovitz or Ansel Adams, but she still takes exquisite photographs. My dog is not Lassie and she doesn't feel bad about it. Maybe we all should be more doglike.

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