Live Your Own Life

I believe it is possible to die, without having lived. Anyone can accomplish this, if they are sufficiently foolish. All one has to do is live the life that is put upon them by parents, guidance counsellors, and others. If they are certain you should become an architect, and you yearn to be a chef, you have to choose. You have your desire, and that’s all that should matter. There’s a good chance you’ll end up as a chef after you please your parents and waste a decade learning architecture. Don’t waste your life on the desires of others. You only pass this way once.

A young man wished to go to Art College and become an artist. His parents scoffed at the idea. His father told him, “You just want to grow a beard, wear worn out jeans and chase girls.” He didn’t see what was wrong with that. In fact, he had often shown talent with pencils, paints, and sculpture with clay. His parents urged him to be a doctor, as several of his cousins were doctors. The thought was abhorrent to him. He hated school of any kind and had no interest in medicine.

He earned a living as a truckers’ helper, or drove a taxi, and sometimes was a courier messenger. He was fine with it, because it meant not going to school. Eventually, he married, and after a couple of years, they had a baby on the way. The man realized that he was not going to earn enough to have a safe, comfortable life for his family. He applied to a placement agency where an honest agent told him he didn’t fit in. He could tell by the way the man spoke, his diction and his language were revealing. He wasn’t right for the kind of low-level jobs they fill. He told the man to take the YMCA Guidance and Counselling test.

The man was working as a ‘closer’, following up leads for magazine subscriptions that had been gleaned from magazine coupons that subscribers sent in for the ‘closer’ to get them to sign on the dotted line. He was a good-looking man, so the office gave him most of the leads from young women. Most of the women were homely and intellectual, and when this handsome man came to their doors, they felt some… something. He would sit with them for half an hour, discuss their needs and preferences, and sign them up.

The man asked his lady boss at the magazine office for a hundred and fifty dollar advance, so he could take the “Y” test. He got the money, got the appointment, and did tests of many kinds for three full days. He went back to the magazine door-to-door stuff while his test results were calculated.

This failing a man, working at menial jobs, received the results of his tests. They said he should expect to excel as an artist and writer, and in the entertainment business. As a personal favour, the man that supervised his testing and did the evaluation told the man he should first go into advertising to get started, because he had a family to feed. The supervisor had a brother who was an advertising copywriter, and arranged for the young father to meet with the ad man.

It was a wholesome meeting, rather superficial, but a completely new world opened up for the man. He got the yellow pages telephone book and looked up ‘Advertising Agencies’. He simply began to call them, one after the other. From each rejection, he learned a little bit. Some small comment by a creative director or a bit of advice from an account executive would increase his knowledge. He was building himself a way into advertising.

Finally, a creative director in a sales promotion department gave him a break. The director had one writer on vacation and another off sick. Work had to be done, so the green kid can have a chance at it. To cut to the chase, the work he turned in was loved. He even drew the layout for the copy he created, and was soon getting freelance jobs around the city. He was eventually hired on staff with the original sales promotion firm that gave him his first opportunity.

He went on to be a successful television creator, writer, and producer. He even was a lyricist on many commercial jingles, as well as a couple of dozen published songs. He was also a fifty-percent partner in a small ad agency, and made hundreds of high-profile television commercials.

He had wasted a lot of years in menial jobs because he was controlled by his parents. In later life he met an artist who lived on a shoestring and was very happy. He lived and worked in a loft in an old industrial building, with a bed suspended from the ceiling and a scattering of old, castoff furniture. He painted, and he was happy.

The young father should have lived like that right away, not decades later, after he proved himself in the world of commerce, where he was a talented misfit. At last, he lived simply with his wife and children, far from the backstab battles of business. He writes and draws for part of every day, and rests the other part of every day.

br35He grew a beard which he has to this day, he still wears worn out jeans, and he still chases – and catches – girls. He lives happily in his loft in an old industrial building.

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