Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weekend Stroll - What Ifs

I was wondering of you wanted to take a weekend stroll with me.  I know, I know!  Impossible, right?  You are there and I am here.  Well, maybe not.  You don't actually have to be here for the stroll.  Besides, where I am, it's cold outside.  So, we are just going to make this a mental stroll.  I'm going to take a few minutes to step away from the funny in order to allow you into my mind for a moment.

Don't worry.  This is a guided tour.  We are going to stay on topic (for the most part).  And I will make this little cyber walk in the park as safe and confined as possible.  I couldn't let you run loose in my mind without boundaries and supervision.  I would surely lose most of you.  It's a weird place up there sometimes.  But it does have its moments of clarity.  Take this for example...

I used to sit around and wonder "what if".  You know the game.  You sit and wonder "What if I had purchased a lottery ticket?" Or, "What if I just asked for that girl's/guy's phone number?" Or even, "What if I had not eaten that entire peach cobbler?"  We all have those fleeting thoughts of "what if".  It's what makes us human.  We only live once in real life but we get to play the Blu-ray version of our lives over and over in our mind (complete with commentary).

The beauty of that is we get to change the outcome of any decisions we think should have or shouldn't have made.  We can even change the decision itself.  If we really think about it, we can even change the events that lead up to that decision.  So we have full control over what we want to think about when it comes to "what ifs".  Well, that really got me to thinking about things.  And I will pose this question to you (my readers) as well.

If you really could go back and change a decision you made, would you?  And even more so, what would you change?

I used to sit and think about going back an not hiding the fact that I was good at sports.  When I was younger, I never really played organized sports.  I did play 2 seasons of baseball.  I got a championship trophy and made all-stars one of the two season.  And the thing is that's the sport I was the WORST at.  I found out I was pretty good at basketball and even better than that at football.  Now, I originally couldn't play football because my mom wouldn't let me. (That's a whole 'nother story!)  But I never pressed the issue.  I just let a possible football career slip through my fingers.  If I had tried, there's a possibility I would be at the end of my career in the NFL or NBA right now and I could be RICH!  It's completely possible that I could have enjoyed a very successful career and would be retired or ready to retire by now.

I also used to think about what would have happened if I had pursued a career in acting.  I didn't appreciate acting when I was in elementary school playing Little Boy Blue in a school play.  I didn't even give acting a second glance when I was cast as Billy McCord in another elementary school musical.  (For those who don't know, Billy was the brother of Big Sam in the song "North to Alaska".  It was a riveting performance.  And I'm still wondering why I was snubbed in the awards.)

After that, I wasn't into anything acting-wise until I was in high school.  That's when I really took a liking to the stage.  I was in a several comedic productions. And I felt like I found my home there... especially with the improv stuff.  My friends and I would have a blast just getting in front of people and generally making a fool of ourselves.  But it was never sloppy.  Everything we did, was done with class... AND it was funny!  I enjoyed every single minute of the stage time I had in high school.

Then I went to college and I was planning on continuing the dream of becoming a world renowned actor.  But while I was in college I was told if I wanted to be in the play I would have to quit my job.  Well, I came from a poor background.  I needed that job to survive in college.  So that was my exit stage left... curtains close... no standing ovation.  After that I used to wonder, "What if I had stuck it out for one more play?"  Yeah, I tried a few smaller things while in college but it was never the same after that.  I let the dream die.  And so did the potential fame and fortune that came along with it.

I used to sit around and regret those 2 major decisions in my life.  I would beat myself up for adding the word "missed" to those opportunities I let fall to the wayside.  So, if you asked me right now, "If you could actually go back and make either one of those decisions over again, would you?"  My answer would be an easy and resounding...


I'm sure some of you are wondering why I wouldn't go back to take a shot at fortune and fame if I had the change.  And I don't blame you for it.  They were my dreams.  So, why wouldn't I go back for a chance at riches and celebrity status?  Well, I believe in the Butterfly Effect.  I believe I am at this very point and place in time because of EVERYTHING that has happened before it.  I believe if I were to go back and change even the smallest thing, nothing will be the same as it is now.  And the thing is, I LIKE where I am now and who I'm with.  If I were to go back and change anything I would never have met my beautiful wife.  And we wouldn't have these 3 adorable children.  And to me, that's not an acceptable risk.

My wife and I are struggling financially right now (like a lot of America) but I wouldn't trade any of it now or ever for the chance at my dreams past.  I mean, in my mind I think of it as, "Would I be willing trade my wife and kids for the life I could have had?"  And all I can say is that it's not worth it.  They ARE my acting career and sports superstar status all rolled into one.  I get to try all of my best comedy on them!  I get to watch them laugh.  I get to see the smiles on their faces.  When that happens I forget that there is even anyone else in the crowd.

I also get to be that sports icon.  I will play sports with my kids and they will think I'm the greatest football and basketball player in the world.  (My oldest is a gold medal winning gymnast.  So I'm not even going to act like I'm good at that sport.)  But I get to relive the Super Bowl, NBA Championship, NCAA Finals, National Championship AND the Professional Bowling Championship (ok, that one's a stretch) anytime I play with my kids.  People WITHOUT kids might think that's just being delusional.  People WITH kids know there is nothing else more real than that.

So I have decided to make sure I make more decisions NOW that won't be tied to a "what if" LATER in life.

Thanks for taking that weekend stroll with me.  I had a lot of fun and I hope you did too.  We must do this again one day.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ummm... Awkward!

What do you say to a long lost friend after a lengthy hiatus?  I'm sure it depends more on the friend and less on the length of the silence.  But let's just say it is a very good friend.  You could start by saying, "I'm sorry!"  But then you have to acknowledge your screwup.  You might even have to talk about feelings and emotion and all of that mess.  So enter the "I'm sorry" at your own risk.

You could take the other option.  You can walk up to them as though not a day has passed and everything is just like it was yesterday (or a month ago... who's counting).  That plan of action also assumes a certain set of risks.  Oddly, depending on the situation, you might get HIT before having to talk about the same feelings and emotions and all of that mess you were going to have to talk about if you had just said you were sorry. (You gotta love lose/lose situations!)

Then there's the one chance in a billion that you don't even have to say anything.  You just walk into the room and all things begin align.  The lights adjust.  Birds begin to chirp.  Music plays.  Food begins to prepare itself.  This kids stop making noise. What? Yeah, I lost myself at that one.  I should have stopped at the food preparing itself.  The quiet kids just made everything unbelievable.

How about this... I will just start this post as if no time has passed since the last post.  In typical guy fashion, I'm going to ignore all feelings and emotions .  And if I get hit (which I probably will) then I will just get hit.  But be warned I will attempt to move out of the way and I have the reflexes of a cheetah. (Albeit a quite elderly cheetah with a limp and a retinal disorder.  So I might not even see it coming or be able to get out of the way if I do!)

The other day I was driving to one of the other locations for my job.  I do this all of the time.  (I'm sure it's not as much as they'd like but the point is this happens (best case) a few times a month.)  When I go I take the company vehicle.  It is a very manly white minivan with our logo on the side of it.  The vehicle is no frills.  And by no frills I mean NO frills.  There isn't power anything.  No remote anything.  I'm lucky the radio works.  I use the term "lucky" loosely because there's where the story starts.

I'm driving to my other location and listening to the radio.  I switch the station a few times just in time to catch the very beginning of a song I like.  And you know that's really hard to do.  Most of the time while scanning the stations you'll find the song you like either at the very end or at least at the point past your favorite part.  But this time I found the song at the beginning.  So I can start singing right away without being just a little bit upset about what all I've missed.  I even gave myself a mental high five. (In today's society, you have to take your victories when you can get them!)

I'm just singing away!  I'm also singing rather loudly because I'm the only one in the car.  When we are alone we always sing like we could win American Idol even though 99.999% of us would really only be a highlight in the bad (but really funny) auditions in the first few weeks.  So, I'm blasting out the song in true week 1 - 3 American Idol fashion when I get to a red light.  As I'm pulling up to the light I notice the car at the light is the same make and model of minivan that I'm driving... only green.  And normally at this point I would stop singing.  I don't mind singing crazy when I'm alone but at a red light there's an audience.  I'm not quite ready for Carnegie just yet.

But THIS time I didn't stop singing.  I don't know if it was the minivan kinship I had formulated in my mind within the last 2 second or if it was the fact that I saw the guy in the minivan singing as well.  Really, it was probably because the song was at the chorus and I didn't want to miss singing my favorite part.  This would prove to be one of the most awkward moments in my car driving history.

When I pull up next to the guy at the light I look over at him.  Again, this is something I don't normally do but I did THIS time.  When I look over at him, he looks back at me.  That's when we notice we are singing the SAME song.  I know most of you are thinking that there is nothing really awkward about that.  We were listening to the same radio station at the same time.  But here's the part that made this little scene awkward...  We were singing the chorus to the song "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer.  If you don't know it, here it is...

Just as I was striking up the band and making the fireflies dance and the silver moon was sparkling... we looked at each other and said, "So kiss me." (Listen to the song and you will understand.) Now, I don't know the exact moment the musical magnetism began to force our heads to face the objects of our horrible singing but we were definitely looking each other in the eyes when he asked me to kiss him as I did the same to him.

We were both completely shocked!  The light stayed red for what seemed like 2 eternities.  So we had to sit there next to each other and think about the moment.  I never looked back at him but I'm pretty sure we both stopped singing and were focused straight ahead.  When the light turned green, I was a gentleman and let him go first.  I figured if I drive slowly we wouldn't have to revisit the awkward moment again.  But I was wrong.  For the rest of the trip we got caught by EVERY red light!  So that funny feeling kept happening over and over again as I was pulling up next to him.

I really felt like I lost my MAN card that day but I'm not sure at which point.  And I'm fairly sure I haven't done enough "manly" things since then to get it back.  I guess I'm going to stop writing now so I can go watch some Pretty in Pink or Rent or Xanadu with my wife for a little while.  Both Clint Eastwood AND Chuck Norris would be proud!

Oh, and BTW... I'm sorry for waiting so long to write. :)