Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bear Left at the Fork


I’m not complaining. There are a million ways things could be worse, and only a few ways that they could be better. Married the wrong woman back in 1984, but she gave me three beautiful daughters. I met my true soul mate in ’95. I walked away with this feeling that I should have married someone like her. I didn’t know it at the time, but while I was feeling wistful, the wrong woman was tearing up our marriage contract over rooty-tooty-fresh-and-fruity breakfasts. I also didn’t know that through a long sequence of unlikely events, after much emotional upheaval and heartache, I would actually end up with my soul mate. Great story for perhaps another day.

So there’s that.

There’s also the fact that while I don’t love my job, it also doesn’t suck and it pays well. A career in the computer industry turned out to be a textbook example of life happening to me while I was busy making other plans. I majored in Psychology in college, because everyone was always coming to me for advice. My teenage and young adult years were rife with attractive women, hanging on my every word as they poured their hearts out to me about their loser macho boyfriends who loved their cars, their friends, their football games or whatever more than they loved them.

That was fun.

So I majored in psychology. Got pretty good grades too. Trouble was, I wanted to be a rock star, and I didn’t want to go get my masters and my PhD. So I got a job at a conservative bank on Wall Street in the personnel department. I fit in there like a juggler on a unicycle would fit in at a wake. They really didn’t approve of that one time that I used their inter-office mail system to hook up a lady-friend in another building with some faux amphetamines. The things looked real. I think I said, “Was that wrong? Because I don’t recall seeing anything in the employee handbook about that!”

There I was, 24 years old, unemployed. The object of my parents’ incredulous lectures and ridicule, and who could blame them? It was an incredibly stupid thing to do. Maybe someday I will tell the story that prompted the sending of the illicit parcel, but it isn’t a story of which to be proud. While I just knew that one day I would be playing to an ocean, ("I can hear the ocean’s roar...") I needed something to turn the tide back in my favor in the meantime. I decided to enroll in one of those matchbook computer programming schools, and 25 years later, here I am.

Still.

When I was in college, I took three courses in photography, all with the same teacher. He was a professional photographer and loved my work. He often compared it to Ansel Adams, to the envy of some of my fellow students, and to my relative bemused detachement as I hadn’t heard of him at the time didn’t understand how fine a compliment it was. He urged me to change my major and wanted to feature my work at a gallery that often featured his.

I said “no.”

“No?”

“Yep.”

“Why?”

“Well, I’m trying to make it big in music, and I don’t think I can do both.”

“Are you as good at music as you are at this?”

“Yeah.”

Except I wasn’t.

I also took radio, TV, and film courses. Aced all of them. One of the professors asked me why I wasn’t a Comm. major?

“Too hard to get a job.” That was my answer.

Like making a hit record, and then another and another was going to be as easy as making instant oatmeal?

Greater minds, better writers, brilliant philosophers, all of them have been down this path. Yeah, I could have been something else. I wouldn’t have these kids, wouldn’t have met the Viscountess, and wouldn’t have known what might have been. And of all the things could have happened instead, most of them could have turned out much worse. I could have looked at a guy like me from over there and thought, “Man, that guy has it made."

In the wake of Lennon’s murder, I read everything I could get my hands on about the man. There was this one interview, and I think it was done just weeks before his tragic and untimely death. I can’t find it on the ‘net, so I’m going to have to paraphrase it. He said something like, “Sometimes I sit back and I think, ‘I could have been a fisherman. Go out early every morning, just me and my boat. It would have been a very peaceful and simple life. I wonder what that would have been like?’ Well, I’ll never know, will I?”

10 Comments:

Blogger cali said...

You sound wistful and reflective today, Al.

I wonder if you will return to photography when you retire.

2:01 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Probably not going to wait that long. Thinking about this post and writing it made me wonder why I haven't gotten back to it, and I don't really have a good answer.

2:14 PM  
Blogger fgfdsg said...

Great post Viscount, a lot of important truths amongst it.

Life's rarely what you expect, and rarely gives you what you think you want, and only in retrospect do you realise you didn't need it after all.

I mentioned a book by A.B. Facey the other day, "A Fortunate Life" that deals with the same concepts.

3:06 PM  
Blogger cali said...

I agree with Simon, your post brings up some things worth thinking about. On a somewhat lighter note, it inspired my new poll.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

I'm a little more prone to what-ifs and might-have-beens simply because I haven't gotten as far along as you. I'm still looking for so much and not sure where to find it.

But I keep at it in my own ineffectual way...

4:52 PM  
Anonymous The Heretik said...

Don't go to hard to the D max side of things. Your zone will find its own system in its time.

Nicely said. And thanks for that lovely rendition of the Grand Tetons by the master of black and white and the tones between at the start.

2:51 AM  
Anonymous Bob Dwire said...

Nice, very nice. Let's see some of your pictures.

4:02 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Let's see some of your pictures.

Thanks Bob. I was talking to Xtcfan yesterday about this post, and I think it is high-time I get a digital camera and start up where I left off.

I'm also going to dig out my old slides (for color photography that was the medium of choice at my university) and get the best of them transferred to digital images.

7:24 AM  
Blogger cali said...

Al, thanks for both your nomination and vote for Best Political Song. I enjoyed re-watching that video of Conor Oberst on Leno's Show. Gutsy move.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

Well, sounds like you were kind of a fisherman, V. Drifting along. Running into things. Catching a sweet bass now an again...

4:49 AM  

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