Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Carpe Diem

Catch, then, O catch the transient hour, improve the moment as it flies.

Saint Jerome
Hello Ally
I was born in 1939. That was known as the Post Depression Era. There were wealthy people of course. There are always wealthy people, most of whom know nothing at all about wealth. But for the average guy, facing the horrible memories and echoes of the depression, the most important thing was to have a job. It really didn't matter, in many cases, what the job was as long as it provided a living wage. I grew up with that ethic drummed into me. I shouldn't think about having a career. Get a job.

In my recent move I've uncovered many things that have been packed away for want of space. Now that I have some room I'm unpacking boxes and discovering what is inside them. One of the things I found is my original Social Security card. I never had it replaced because I haven't had to show it to anyone for many years. You might say it's a collectors item.

It reminded me of my first job, a stand up job running a machine that wrapped up to mail issues of the Port Chester Daily Item of Port Chester, New York. For an entire summer I stood at a table with a stack of brown wrappers in front of me each with a number on it. The numbers repersented the number of papers I had to wrap. I would slide them across the wrappers into a small forked arm of metal and step on a switch. The machine did the rest. I put the wrapped papers in a pile and later someone came by to collect them. I took a bus back and forth to work and at lunch break I had a burger at Scotty's Diner. Four years later I had my first professional acting job.

The theatre became my career, my profession and my job. But I got side tracked into a radio announcing job that was very good. Although a cornucopia of difficulties and tensions, radio can be a lucrative and satisfying endeavor, I made money, I was satisfied, I was self-satisfied, life was good, the future was rosy, I thought. I didn't have to worry about anything. I had a job.

I was the afternoon announcer. In the evenings, after dinner and a few drinks I would put myself to sleep watching aimless, inane television. I did that for seven years. SEVEN YEARS.

Today that is one of the greatest regrets of my life. What did I do with all that time I had given myself? Nothing. At about the same time as that was beginning to worry me I was growing dissatisfied with just broadcasting. Although for some announcers going on the air everyday was a thrill, for me the thrill was gone. Then I heard the Paul Simon song "One man's ceiling is another man's floor." It hit me that what I was doing was bumping my head on the ceiling. I had to move on. (What? And give up your job?)

I did, and went back into the theatre which kept me active and busy, challenged and involved with life up to it's full cup and running over. No regrets, except that I didn't do it sooner.

Now I write every day and paint often. I am busy, productive and reasonably happy, in spite of personal problems. I don't want to waste another moment of life, and I pass along the same advice to everyone.

There is a useless, pointless life to be lived drinking yourself silly every night or getting high on drugs and playing stupid games on a screen or in a bed. Life is the most important thing you have. Why waste it?

The present is what we have and what we always have, in fact it's all we have. It should be grasped, seized and improved on in every way possible. It doesn't matter what you do with the present moment as long as you don't waste it.

Dana Bate - The Vagabond
Never Give Up

1 comment:

Jon said...

I enjoy reading about your past and I admire your optimism for life. I regret all the time that I've wasted in the past. In retrospect, however, my life was filled with an incredible amount of negative things that greatly subtracted from my creativity. I didn't plan it that way - it just happened.
As I grow older, I realize how precious time is and I try to make the most of it.