Sunday, February 26, 2012

Do What You Love

Do what you love and the money will follow. It’s a great idea, but it never worked for me. I guess that’s why I spent my working years as a mole, doing the midnight until dawn gig so that when the sun came up I could go do the things I liked.

Now I’m not saying that I hated what I did, far from it, some of it was rewarding, some of it was exciting, some of it was drudgery and some of it was a ball, but it wasn’t what I loved and it never could have been.

The problem I see with the philosophy, “Do what you love and the money will follow,” is it presumes one tiny little thing, it assumes that you will love something commercial or at least popular.

Now here’s the truth, we’d all love to fins something we could love that everyone else would love and that they would buy in truck loads and spend wildly for and tell all of their friends about and that is what television is all about. But for the most part, I have been singularly successful at picking shows which get cancelled after half a season.

I loved The Avengers, Steed and Mrs. Peel were great and fired all of my rockets, but I loved Cathy Gale before Mrs. Peel and Tara King and the incomparable Purdy long after Mrs. Peel had run off with James Bond. The series lasted three years on American television; fortunately I had friends in the UK who could bootleg it for me.

Then there was the Dresden Files. Oh yes, that was a few years later but it was the same thing all over again, loved it and all of the changes for TV. Died like a dog. Terrance Man as Bob the skull was delightful, but it wasn’t enough to hook the big enchilada.

I’m waiting on Body of Proof, the Dana Delany series and CSI: New York and Combat Hospital, Flashpoint and Lost Girl, my Canadian favorites all loves of my life and on life support.

When it comes to being mainstream, I flunked.

So doing what I love is probably not going to be the secret of my success. Should I try to chase a trend, maybe catch a falling star and put it in my pocket to save for a rainy day? There are problems there too, stars don’t much like to be caught and trends are funny things, the minute you chase one it stops being a trend and becomes a passing fancy.

Now I know what you are saying, you must like something other people like. Not really, not in any commercial sense. See I really like watching television. Okay, I know that’s something which should only be admitted under questioning by the Inquisition or at least after water-boarding at Guantanamo. But I really do.

I like guns. Yes, you can leave the room if you like but I don’t use them to shoot harmless animals. I like the unique mechanical complexity of guns. It is amazing to me that the human mind, in a flash of insight, realized that chemicals could be mixed together to cause an explosion, directed if that explosion was contained in a metal pot and used for hunting and military purposes. What a deal!

But unlike your averaged pickup driving, camo wearing, Beauregard’s Battle Flag waving, (You do know that the Stars and Bars, often called the Confederate flag was the battle flag of General Beauregard and not a “National” flag at all. The Bonnie Blue Flag was the first “National” Confederate flag and it was the flag which flew over the Confederate batteries which opened fire on Fort Sumner), survivalist I do not think the end is near or that Bambi poses a serious, long-term threat or that any day now the forces of the Scientologists are going to march into downtown Coos Bay and take over. I just like taking guns apart and seeing how their innards work.

(* This has nothing to do with anything, but I find it fascinating, the first successful semi-automatic handgun, the Mauser Military Pistole of 1899 called the C96, was so perfectly designed that not one single screw was used in its assembly until war-time production demands in the 1940’s forced the addition of a screw into the grip panels.)

Same is true for old cameras but I’ve gone on and on about that and I know you are getting tired of it, so I won’t say anything more about it, except, loving guns for their mechanical innards and obsolete cameras is not a money making venture.

There is the thing about nekkid girls. Yes, you can make money with nekkid girls but that sort of profession requires fur coats, sunglasses and large, gas-guzzling cars or slick magazine production or obnoxious websites you’d block on your children’s’ computers in spite of the fact that the average child get around a block established by a parent in less time that it takes to switch on a light, and besides the Long Suffering would not approve of such an undertaking so that’s out, which brings me right back to where I started, doing what you love and expecting to get paid for it is a lot like expecting your Lotto winnings to finance your retirement.

Just move somewhere warm and learn to make salads from dumpster produce.

This does not mean you shouldn’t do what you love. On the contrary I think doing what you love is one of the most self-affirming things you can do. Just don’t plan on buying out Warren Buffet’s Berkshire-Hathaway stock.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before there was a Kim Kardashian, there was a belief in a Calling. People with some special connection to certain disciplines had a life calling and they took up the job of following their passion knowing that they would never become rich doing it.

They did it for the love of what they were doing. Please re-read that last part, love of what they were doing.

Art is a miserable way to make a living. You can probably do it if you have a special gift, work like a man possessed and live in one of the giant art centers like New York or L.A. but just because you can’t make a living at it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

About a thousand years ago, before there was Paris Hilton I worked the evening shift at Ling/Temco/Vought. It was a good job, but like most young guys I wanted the bright lights and the fast life I was sure was waiting just around the corner. I was chronically dissatisfied.

I worked with a guy called Lanny, thirtyish, married, with a family and bills and a degree in psychology. I asked Lanny, on one of those nights when there was little to do and a lot to talk about, I asked what he was doing here, why wasn’t he out using his degree? He smiled and said, “I have a job.”

I had no idea how profound that was. Work is what you do to pay the bills so that you can do the things you really want to do when you aren’t working. Don’t try to make your passion support your life. Work and then go home and do the things you love.

And Lanny, now I know…

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