“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell
Last week I turned 30 years old. This was a major milestone in my life, one I’d (honestly) been fearing for a while now. Growing up, I always thought turning 30 meant I’m “old,” as if there’s some magical precipice of life when you’ve gone through 10,950 days, and now it’s “all downhill from here.” Maybe. Maybe not.
It’s hard not to compare yourself against societal benchmarks. Juxtaposing my life against my parents is one drastic comparison. At 30 years old, both of my parents were married (to other people). My mother already had two children, and my father was already deeply ingrained in his legal practice. Oh yeah, and he’d already owned his first house for nearly four years.
But for a more modern dose of humility, all I have to do is scroll my Facebook newsfeed. My elementary school friends, my high school friends, and my college friends, have all found their way in life. Many are married and have families of their own. My friends are buying their first homes, or celebrating work anniversaries of nearly a decade. Pictures of decadent vacations and new cars catch hundreds of “likes” on social media (including my own).
Perhaps I don’t have one of those lives worthy of broadcasting. I don’t have a wife, or a family, or a brand new car. I don’t have a single occupation. I haven’t been out of the country in nearly seven years. I don’t have a deep savings account (under $100) and I don’t have investments in stocks and bonds. I don’t have the biggest, best things that money can buy.
What I do have is something else, something intangible. While many were slaving away at their desks earning overtime pay, I was exploring my potential in the world around me. I was experimenting, trying, testing, and living my life the way I’ve wanted to. I’ve always treated work as someone “leasing” my time, and when that relationship has run it’s course, I pull the ejector seat. It’s time to find something new.
It’s this perspective on the journey that brought me here now, but it was not always that way. I’ve had many directions and goals at different times of my life, and having those is what has made me the man I am today.
ONE YEAR AGO. In the fall of 2014, I had just moved back down to Southern California with the intent of continuing my screenwriting while coaching lacrosse at Calabasas High School. I was living in my parent’s guest house, commuting 625 miles per week down to Los Angeles, mostly because the price of living in LA was too expensive for my meager coaching pay. The price of gas was, believe it or not, cheaper.
Just one year ago, I believed I was on the verge of breaking into the film industry. I had “won” entry into a screenwriting competition and there was some positive attention on my scripts. I reached out to a number of my contacts in Los Angeles for help (who volunteered to be an aid), but sadly, when push really came to shove, nobody responded. I wasn’t asking people to slide my latest script under executive doors, I was asking for a couch to sleep on.
The “everybody’s gotta hustle” mentality of Los Angeles ultimately left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve never shied away from hard work, but I am the first to shy away from a community that doesn’t support it’s own. It felt as though there was no camaraderie amongst the “struggling,” just an overall saturation of “figure it out yourself.” Flat out, I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.
TWO YEARS AGO. In the fall of 2013, I was working as the Sales & Marketing Coordinator at Circus Center in San Francisco, California. In addition to my administrative role, I was also training in acrobatics with Master Lu Yi. I was living with my girlfriend, coaching lacrosse in the afternoons, and writing screenplays at night. I had a solid group of friends from high school and college living in the Bay Area, so there was no shortage of good times. Life was moving along with pretty smooth sailing.
At that time, my longterm vision of myself was deeply routed in where I was at the time. I loved working at the Circus, and training was (arguably) my favorite thing to do. I envisioned myself splitting my time between circus, writing, coaching lacrosse and my rich personal life. I had visions of being a stay-at-home dad… a happy stay at home dad. (This is still my dream).
But things change. And people change. I changed. A good life of being “content” wasn’t something I aspired for anymore, and in the months after my 28th birthday, my life changed forever.
FIVE YEARS AGO. I wore a suit and tie to work every single day. I was living in downtown San Francisco in an apartment with two other Chrisses (is that what you call a group of Chris?), walking to the Financial District for my work as a civil litigation paralegal. I had deferred from law school for a year, and for a job for Drexel Bradshaw. For my birthday, my crew of faithful cohorts and I took a trip to Las Vegas.
I had been writing screenplays for a little over a year, but it was around my birthday that I won an award in the West Field Screenwriting Awards. I would race home from work and spend my nights writing screenplays. I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to return to law school or build a little savings. In the end, I spent a majority of the money I made going to Giants baseball games. I was also on Mythbusters that fall (kinda embarrassing).
This was the brief stint when I believed I could go into law and be successful. I imagined moving back to Santa Barbara, taking over my father’s criminal defense practice, and living in Ojai, writing on the weekends.
TEN YEARS AGO. Sophomore year at St. Lawrence University was a pivotal year for me. I was 20 years old, already a “brother” in my fraternity, and I had just started my record label, KMD Music. I recently switched my major from Economics to Music, and I was living in the fraternity’s “triple,” the largest room in the house.
Back then, I still wanted to go into the music industry. I had just spent the summer interning at Vagrant Records and I was waiting on 1200 copies of Rock The Cure. I was in Canton, New York, which is not the mecca of the music entertainment industry, but I was still convinced I could take my liberal arts education and make a ripple in the industry.
FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. The Lower School, back then, could be aptly described as a bomb shelter, perfect for adolescent boys away from their parents for the first time. As a freshmen boy at The Thacher School, I lived under special circumstances. Check in. Classes. Horseback riding. Camping. Feed your horse before you feed yourself.
At fourteen, I don’t think I had long term perspective on what my life was going to be. I knew I loved music, but everything I was going to experience over the next few years would definitely impact how I approached the rest of my life. I didn’t really know what to expect back then. The only thing I knew was that my father had gone to this same boarding school, and we both had Marvin Shagam as a Latin teacher.
I wanted to go into Politics.
TWENTY YEARS AGO. In 1995, I was a mature ten year old attending Marymount School in Santa Barbara. I was starting to play tennis a lot, but I just tried to stay busy. The year before I lost my brother and I had really hard time dealing with it. I felt there was a cloud hanging over my life that year. Our family received so much love and support from our friends and neighbors, that we were able to make it out of that first year intact. I don’t remember many specifics about that year, just the hurt. I knew when I grew up, I didn’t want to feel that way again.
I think I wanted to be an astrophysicist.
THIRTY YEARS AGO. On October 24, 1985 at 5:12 PM, my parents and brothers were at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara watching the World Series, waiting for my arrival. I was my mother’s third child, so she figured it was going to go smoothly, which thankfully it did. We were home by the time the game was over (or so they tell me). I can’t imagine my mother thought we’d be here today, 30 years later.
NOW? Now I’m here in Portland, Oregon. I’m splitting my time between Real Estate administration (with my old friend Beth Bonita from Marymount!) and my own entrepreneurial activities, including the Mystery Tin Podcast Network and the Dinner’s Ready! card game. I’m living with my girlfriend, Brittany, and our kitten Tundra.
The future is relatively uncertain, which of my paths I will continue down, but that doesn’t concern me yet. It may not be what I had in mind just a few short years ago, but for right now, it’s perfect.
Right where I want to be.
P.S. In not such an important milestone, this was my 100th blog post on TheMysteryTin.com. Thank you to all the readers over the last few years. I hope I’ve brought you some kind of enjoyment or inspiration. Thanks again for reading.