Private Morelli, Blogging For Duty, Sir.

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.

You can protest until there’s a baton bashing in your nose. Doesn’t mean you’re going to get your way.

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!

When you pick something to do, all you’re really doing is signing up for the problems that come with the job.

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.

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2 Responses to Private Morelli, Blogging For Duty, Sir.

  1. Vince says:

    Thanks for such nice words. I took the easy road going to lawschool though. It came with a built in job. Art, acting, performing, writing and directing all come with hopes and dreams and a long shot. The work and dedication, not to mention talent, is beyond measure.

    I guess that’s what pisses me off so much about American Idol. The dedication and hard work they put in is standing on a really long line.

    I gues that’s what then pisses me off so much about the soldiers. They put in all the hard work and we don’t really pay attention to them, care about them, acknowledge them, pay for them, employ them nor contribute to cause.

    • Gregor says:

      You know, standing in line is no easy trick. It certainly rivals the decade I spent toiling on the stages of New York City, bombing in every music venue on Bleecker Street, all the way up to CBGB’s, until I figured out how win a room over instead of pushing it away.

      I think we’re stuck in a moment where results are valued more than process, or craft. It’s hard not to be in love with results: attention, money, magazine covers, 24/7 coverage on TMZ.com, pop star girlfriends, adopted children as accessories.

      Even when George Clooney gets arrested at 8:45AM for protesting in front of the Sudanese Embassy, no one bashes in his nose with a police baton, and at 11:45AM, on the same morning, the press shows up to a press conference when he makes bail for $100.

      Soldiers are only interesting when they “win.” As if you can win a war. If I learned anything on Memorial Day, by posting this picture, it’s how much more interested we are in discrediting a desperate soldier, even if he’s a fraud, than we are in taking the time to think about the conditions we’ve created for someone to be this desperate.

      Truth is, I haven’t bothered to stop or acknowledge anyone else since I doubled back on the Fullerton off ramp. Turns out, the real fraud is the guy who took the picture: ME.

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