Monday, December 03, 2012
From the time I was a child, I have really only had two deep desires of my heart. The first is that I’ve always wanted to make a living as an entertainer. That hasn’t happened, yet. I’m an entertainer, but have earned very little money from it. About ten years ago, I was supposed to move to L.A. and attend a graduate film program I had been accepted into. I chose, instead, to return to school and get a teaching certificate. What should have been a year and a half in school for my teaching certificate turned into almost three years of more schooling. Even after I had my teaching certificate, I spent two years substitute teaching before I found a teaching position. The year I was a regular full-time teacher turned into one series of unfortunate events after another; it was not pretty and instead of accepting another contract to return, I resigned. I don’t have many regrets in life, but of late I’ve found myself seriously questioning my choice to give up film school and pursue teaching. I did learn from the whole experience how much I enjoy performing (I missed it terribly when I was teaching) and being involved in the entertainment business and that’s where my true passion lies. However, by not leaving for L.A. when I did, did I blow my one chance to make it as a professional?
The second deep desire of my heart is that I want to be married and have a family. Sometimes this desire seems to come into conflict with the other. For instance, one of the major reasons I even started looking into returning to school for a teaching certificate was because of the influence of a woman I was madly in love with. There were other factors, but it was because of comments made by this lady that initially spurned me into even investigating the possibility. I was willing to forgo the one thing I have always wanted to do since I was child for the possibility of eventually having a more “normal life” with her. Of course, it all came to naught. The woman broke my heart (months before I made the final decision to turn down film school for teaching) and I discovered that, like several other women I have been attracted to, she was just leading me along and taking advantage of my sweetness and good nature for her own selfish ego.
Recently that second deep desire of my heart (to be married and have a family) has really been nagging me. Every single woman I knew or was even remotely attracted to in high school and college are married and most have children. The circle of life has continued and I’ve been left out. You have no idea how depressing that is, even if I am a real life Charlie Brown.
It’s not like I’ve set out to be single. I’m attracted to females just as much as any other red-blooded American male. I’ve been on dates and have tried, unsuccessfully to pursue romantic relationships. But, I respect women too much to play around with their emotions. I don’t want to be toyed with and treated as a game and, despite what has happened to me, I don’t think women want to be treated that way, either. I’m not a playboy or philanderer. In fact, I’m the opposite. I treat women with the utmost respect. I’m usually the perfect gentleman. Lately I’ve questioned if, perhaps, that’s the problem. Am I too nice? I’ve asked a couple of friends about it and they assure me that’s not the case. Even if it is, I don’t think I can change; it’s not really in my nature to be a cad. Yet, here I am, good sweet, nice, compassionate me and I’m still alone. My pursuit at romantic interests is not pretty. I think the score is about “World: 15, Tom: 0.”
As I’ve pondered all of this and several other aspects of my life, I’ve been feeling a lot like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life lately. In that classic film, George dreams of leaving Bedford Falls, going to college, and seeing the world. However, he consistently gives up the dream. He gives it up so his brother can go to college and become more successful than he ever dreamed. He gives it up to save the small Building and Loan in Bedford Falls that his father built. He gives it up to save the town from utter ruin by the evil Mr. Potter. After years of doing this, George reaches the end of his rope and, at the end, he has to have his life taken away to realize exactly how much he has.
I can relate to George in some ways. It seems that all the plans I’ve ever had, no matter how well thought-out, prayed over, dedicated, and seemingly divinely ordained have all come to naught. At one point in It’s a Wonderful Life, George gives up his dream because his father passes away and he stays to save the family business. A few years ago, I did something similar. After that first teaching assignment turned sour, I began planning and preparing for a move to California once again. That year teaching was a dark time for me, but afterwards, I began to hope again. I got an office job, started saving a little money, and started acting again. Things started looking up. Then, on the night of my theatrical directing debut, my father died unexpectedly. I lost not only my Dad, but my theatrical directing debut, too. What, at the time, should have been one of the grandest nights of my life was turned into a massive tragedy in one fell swoop. I stayed home to help my Mom. Six months after that, I was released from my job and spent over fourteen months without consistent employment. My savings, what little of it there was, evaporated. I’ve been working consistently now for over a year and a half, but I’m still nowhere close to where I was before all of this happened. I feel like I’m running around in a circle in a hole deep in the ground and no matter what I do, I can’t get out of the track I’m struck running in, let alone out of the hole I’m in, too.
George Bailey struggled a lot, too. But, George Bailey got the girl. He got married to the woman he loved, restored an old home, and started a family. I don’t have any of that.
I want to be hopeful. I do. As Red says in the old Shawshank, hope is a good thing, one of the best of things. I cling to hope. Yet, hope is fragile and is sometimes fleeting. Like happiness, it doesn’t always stick around for long. So, here I sit wrestling with George Bailey and not so suddenly single and wondering if I’m ever going to get my break. I hope so. I really do.