I'm not really sure how I got here. Seriously, it's weird.
OK, I know how I physically got to where I am. It's not hard, I'm sitting in my "office." (OK, it's a TV tray and a folding chair in a corner of my bedroom, but it's what I've got.) What I mean is, when I look back to who I was twenty years ago, or even twelve months ago, I don't know how I got to this point in my life.
This past weekend I headed off to my first Dad 2.0 Summit. It's a conference for dad bloggers. At this time last year the site you're reading had been around for twelve years and had thirty posts since 2013. On Saturday I read to an audience of guys who get more views in a day than my most popular piece has had in two months. It's was certain to be a packed house, mostly because I went on five minutes before Michael Strahan of NFL fame and now the co-host of Live! With Kelly and Michael.
I have business cards for my blog. I headed to a DC hotel to talk to other bloggers and sponsors about "the changing voice and perception of modern fatherhood." This is not where I expected to be. How did I get here?
It's sort of the big question of my life.
There are people who say you should pursue your dream no matter what. They say that you should never give up. They imply that if you quit on your dream you have some kind of moral deficiency. I disagree. I think there's a lot of value in giving up on a goal.
When I was three-years-old I was going to be a fireman. At age six I wanted to be a stay at home dad. From five to eighteen I was definitely going to be an actor. That was the dream. I didn't get into my first choice theater schools, and I realized the odds I was facing chasing a life on stage. I went for a back up. I became a sign language interpreter, a field I'd become aware of by accident when I joined Inner City Outings (now called, Inspiring Connections Outdoors), a Sierra Club group that took disadvantaged kids on wilderness trips. When I volunteered to be a white water rafting guide for ICO I had no idea that half of their members were Deaf. It took two years on the Dean's List to convince my family that interpreting was a real major. It took seven years to complete my B.A., working full time and taking community college courses for the first few years. Then I signed up for two more years and got a master's.
The truth is, I was such a lousy student in high school that no one should have expected me to go to college. My guidance counselor refused to meet with me. My mom told me that, "butlers make good money." As if I'd ever have the poise or patience for being a butler. No one had any faith in the idea that I'd do anything productive. I didn't give them any reason to. I had gone from being considered gifted and talented through 8th grade, to being a near drop out who managed to fail PE. Yet somehow I've made it this far.
I loved acting because I never wanted one job. I wanted every job. I wanted to do everything. I chose interpreting because it gave me something similar to acting. I still get to become other people every time I go to work. As an interpreter I've worked for almost every department in the Federal government. I've worked for a Major League Baseball team. I stood in front of 900,000 people at my hometown team's championship parade. I've been to China. I've worked in health care, education, law, tech, and even theater. That's the dream.
I was re-watching The Office series finale recently on Netflix. At the end, Jim talks about his journey being at the company and how he never expected it to lead to anything. He ends up saying, "Everything I have I owe to this job." Like Jim, I also met my wife at work. (Thanks
I was climbing the ladder at the company where we met when my mom died. T was one hundred percent behind the idea of ditching everything and moving home to be close to my brother, who was still in high school. Three years later, when I had a chance to pursue a PhD she was one hundred percent behind abandoning the life we'd built in California to come back to the east coast with a one-year-old and one on the way. The strength of our lives and the foundation of our relationship has been our flexibility. Our willingness to change our lives on the fly to pursue opportunities has always led to better opportunities. Everything I have accomplished I owe to her willingness to help make it all happen. It's a trait I try to repay when she pitches an idea for something she wants to do.
Now I'm here at this conference where I have been selected to read a post to a room full of bloggers. I'm here because T shared my dream of having one of us stay home. I'm here because T agreed that I should be the one to do it. I'm literally living the life I'd dreamed of as a kid.
I'm here because a member of another side project, Your Mom is so Berkeley (a joke between co-workers attracted 5,000 strangers who wanted make fun of my hometown), suggested I join a group of dad bloggers on Facebook. So I joined the group, got inspired, and wrote. Then something happened that hadn't happened for me before. If you look at the right hand column you'll see that this blog dates back to 2003, but it wasn't until last year that most of you started reading it. I never expected this. I can't figure out if it's weirder that I was there at this conference, or that some people actually recognized me.
OK, if you made it this far, thanks because it's basically been a weird list of how cool my life is. I do have a larger point.
My life has been very cool. I've played rugby in England because I met a guy at Kinkos who was printing recruiting flyers for a rugby team. I refereed a televised rugby game because I got hurt and couldn't leave the game behind so I picked up a whistle and a former teammate was able to assign me to a televised game.
My life has been this way because I've allowed myself to have multiple dreams. Though I've wanted to be different things at different times I've always been ready to seize the next opportunity. As I think more about it I realize that all I've really wanted in my life is to do cool things. It's meant giving up on some dreams. It's meant making sacrifices. But the thing that's carried me through, the thing that's made my life the amazing experience it's been, is that I've been willing to find happiness along many paths. I didn't get stuck on having one goal. I don't know where I'd be if I'd stuck with acting. I doubt I'd be making a living at it. I know that I would never have met T, my kids would be different kids.
It's OK to give up and shift gears. Don't limit yourself. It's OK to decide you want to do something else. Giving up is great. I encourage it. It's made me everything I am.
PS: As I was writing this post about how great my life is here and how much I love doing exactly what I'm doing T sent me a job posting for just about the only job that could get me to leave being a stay at home dad. It's back home in California. It would mean pulling the kids out of school and moving them across the country. It would mean T leaving a very good career. It would mean leaving the house we just bought this summer.
I'm on it.