There was a post on Facebook the other day asking what you would title your autobiography if you ever wrote one. I have no plans to ever do something like that, and I’m sure nobody would ever want to read it anyway, but my reply was that it would probably be something along the line of My Gypsy Journey.
Maybe it’s because my family moved around so much when I was a kid that I never had strong connections to my cousins and friends I grew up with, but I have never really felt a sense of home, in terms of “this is the place I’m supposed to be forever.” I was an avid reader from a young age, and there were too many places I wanted to see and too many things I wanted to do to be sitting still for very long.
I went to high school in Toledo, Ohio, and in those days, for a blue-collar kid, getting a job on the assembly line at Jeep or one of the other big manufacturers, or even better, a job with the police department, fire department, or post office meant you had arrived, and you were set for life. That never interested me in the least bit, even though my high school girlfriend and her mother were both pushing me to apply for those kinds of jobs instead of enlisting in the Army as soon as I graduated. Sorry, but that wasn’t a trap I planned to fall into.
Years ago, during our fulltime RVing days, Terry and I stopped in Toledo to visit an old high school friend of mine. Sitting on his back porch on a warm summer day, Dan, who had followed the tradition and gotten a job at Jeep, told me he could remember, even as a kid, me saying that I wanted to be a writer and that I was not going to stick around the old hometown, and that he was proud of me for making my dreams come true.
Many others did not appreciate my ideas, besides the old girlfriend and her mother that I mentioned above. A counselor at my high school had a sign on his wall that said Bloom Where You Are Planted. During our junior year, we all had to go to our counselor and discuss where we were headed in our lives and what we wanted to accomplish. He shook his head and told me to forget the pipe dreams and take the advice on his wall, to bloom where I was planted. He went on to say that there is a reason we are all where we are and that we should be grateful for opportunities we have, wherever we are, and whatever those opportunities are.
He didn’t appreciate it when I disagreed with him, but I told him that I didn’t want to be just another guy on the assembly line or carrying the mail door to door. Not that there’s anything wrong with those kinds of jobs and the people who do them, but they weren’t right for me.
Fortunately, I had another teacher, a wonderful man named Jim Summers, who made a big impact on my life, and he told me that not only should we follow our dreams, but we have an obligation to ourselves to do so. He told me about his brother, who had always wanted to be an airline pilot when they were growing up. Instead, he took the traditional route that society at that time laid out for him and became an insurance salesman. He was very successful at it, but also very miserable, which led to a drinking problem and misery for his wife and children, because deep down inside he was a failure for not at least trying to follow his dreams.
“Go be a writer and a newspaperman,” Jim Summers told me. “I guarantee you that even if you are no more than a hack and barely scrape by, you’ll be happier than if you were making more money working in a factory or being a cop or fireman or whatever, and hating it every hour of every day.”
My own father reinforced that by telling me that if you get up in the morning and your stomach turns at the idea of going to your job even one more day, it doesn’t matter if they’re paying you $1 million a year, it’s not worth it. True advice from two very wise men.
And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.
Thought For The Day – They laugh at me because I am different. I laugh at them because they are all the same.