My best friend has an art studio. He goes there to paint. How he finds the time to paint is beyond me.
He’s a lawyer, busy filing class action lawsuits and taking on scoundrels who are out to dupe the rest of us. He’s married, successfully. Wish I had something funny or insightful to say about marriage, but I’m the last guy who should be talking about what makes a relationship work. Most of all, what I’ve noticed, lately, is he seems to be stepping into the role of happy daddy.
This winter, he taught his girls how to ski. This spring, he took on coaching his oldest daughter’s basketball team. When his youngest daughter asked if he could coach her team, too, he said, “Yes.”
Oh, he also taught his daughters how to paint.
Every now and then he sends me pictures of their paintings from his art studio. I’ve watched them develop. Who am I to say, “This one’s a budding artist. This one, on the other hand, is a budding lawyer with an art studio.”
I don’t know. The difference seems ambiguous, more about luck than anyone is comfortable admitting.
I’m not one to say, “Don’t quit your day job.” It always struck me as a crummy way of scaring someone out of taking a chance.
Yes, there’s a downside. If you take a meaningful leap of faith, chances are very good, at the end of the meaningful leap, you’ll have no faith. Which begs the question, why is that a bad thing? Aren’t you supposed to lose your faith, every once in a while? How else do you find it?
My parents tried to instill in me a deep respect for the difference between “vocation and avocation.” Dad used to say, “A lawyer can be an artist but an artist can’t be a lawyer.” I didn’t listen. I took a meaningful leap. I protested my upbringing by reaching for something reckless.
I didn’t. My best friend did.
Not only is he an accomplished lawyer and happy daddy, his artwork is kickass. He doesn’t think so. But no one does. Not really, unless they’re being interviewed or putting on a show.
It’s hard to know what’s real. It’s hard to know the difference between something worthy of your attention and a waste of time.
In late April, I was driving to work. As I hit the off ramp on Fullerton, there was a panhandler. I didn’t look up, eye contact is an invitation. As I approached the highway, something about the panhandler was gnawing at me. So instead of getting on the highway, I doubled back. Luckily, Fullerton has a double back off ramp for the perpetually befuddled.
Corporal Nowak served in the 82 Airborne. I took this picture on April 27th of 2012. I posted it on facebook for Memorial Day, to be thoughtful. But instead of a meaningful reflection on war, it became a series of mean-spirited comments calling out the soldier as “A Fake.”
The comments were angry, but about the wrong things, even on Memorial Day, especially on Memorial Day, when we’re supposed to step back, and reflect, more broadly, on war.
Here’s Greg Morelli’s Memorial Day Reflection on the Difference between Fake and Real.
Real leaders raise taxes when they take a nation to war; real leaders don’t use tax cuts and war to bankrupt a nation so they can gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; most of all, real leaders don’t play dress-up and land on an aircraft carrier for a “Mission Accomplished” photo op.
Is the solider a fake? That’s the dominant question this picture brings to mind? I suppose I should have asked to see his long form birth certificate. He probably wasn’t born here, either. Oh wait, he’s white. So he was definitely born here.
This seems to be the dominant problem in our culture, right now. Since no one has the balls to take a meaningful leap of faith, everyone is going around second-guessing.
Listen, if you want to be an artist, be an artist. If you want to be a lawyer, be a lawyer. If you want to be both, be both. But everyone else, please, back off. No matter how well intended, back off!
If the job is being an artist, the problem is how to make the canvas sing. If the job is being a lawyer, the problem is how to take care of your clients without becoming adept at exploiting loopholes instead of honoring justice. If the job is commenting on facebook, the problem is how to step back from making jerky comments all for the benefit of six other jerks “liking” your jerky comment. Jerk!
And finally, on Memorial Day, let’s all pause to acknowledge, if the job is being a soldier, the problem is coming home.