Family

For most of my life, I’ve lived in the shallow end. I did only what I needed, I wouldn’t rock the boat and I never wanted to do the things which made me happy, I always did things which made those around me happy, or things I believed would make them proud.

Living that way taught me a few things:

  1. You can’t make others happy, regardless of how hard you try.
  2. You must to what makes you happy, to hell with everyone else.
  3. Your immediate family (which for me is my wife, kids and dog) are the ones who will support you no matter what.
  4. What you choose to do creatively can be the most important thing in your life and will give you more guidance than any book, speech of movie.
  5. You must find peace within yourself to do anything worthwhile creatively.

These five are the biggest things I’ve dealt with in my life and I’m going to go through them and tell you how I discovered the importance of each.

For Number One.

My biological dad has been out of my life for most of my adult life, this is a mutual thing and though I’ve tried and he’s tried, we can’t reach a point where we are amicable to each other.

When I was a kid I played soccer because my parents wanted me to, I was 4 and had no choice. When I was six, I started playing ice hockey, and though initially I did it because of my parents, I began to love the game and watching hockey, especially playoff hockey is a part of who I am today.

In my teens and toward my senior year in high school I wanted to do something which would make my dad proud, I enlisted in the Marines, and was discharged after failing tests in receiving.

I started college because I wanted to make him proud and it was my best way out of a bad situation, I failed at that too, completing only a year with poor academics.

When I moved to Las Vegas it was because I had no place to live as my biological dad and step-mom asked me to leave because of my relationship with my then girlfriend and present wife. Along with their not being happy with my relationship and my academics I left with my sister for Las Vegas, my girlfriend followed me to Vegas a month later.

I began writing again in 2001 after insistence from a friend and encouragement from my wife.

Initially I did because I wanted my dad again to be proud of me being published, but that never happened. After a reconciliation after my son’s birth in 2004 and eventual falling out, we didn’t talk until around 2009 when my daughter was born. That reconciliation like the previous one, didn’t end well and I’ve moved on.

I learned that my biological dad will never be satisfied with anything I do and the only person I should make proud of my achievements is myself.

For Number Two.

Along with the falling out I had with my biological dad, my sisters and a few other parts of the family stopped talking to me.

This taught a great lesson: Your family will not be there when you need them, and you must do only which satisfies yourself and ignore what everyone says about you.

I’ve since reconnected with my sisters and those other parts of my family and they are some of my greatest supports now. I don’t know how I could have dealt with my grandfather’s funeral without all of them!

For Number Three.

When others gave up on me for falsehoods they were told, my wife stood by me, and without her by my side the last sixteen years, I’m not sure I could have handled everything as well as I have.

For Number Four.

When I began writing again, I read books, watched documentaries and began following creatively gifted people on social media. I learned they are as clueless as the rest of us when it comes to how they got published or why they’re successful in their art.

Neil Gaiman said it best in his commencement speech, “Sometimes people get hired, because they get hired.” Which is the best example of how artists, writers and actors make it in their fields.

Neil Gaiman and others worry that they’ve perpetrated to some crime in their success and worry that their will come a time when someone will show up and take everything away.

I choose to write for myself, not because doing it for anyone else didn’t give me the results I wanted, but because I like to see the stories which come out and I enjoy coming up with the ideas, characters and worlds which come out so wonderfully on the page.

For Number Five.

Through all the things I’ve dealt with in my life, my parents divorce when I was eight, going to 11 different school and having to adjust to each, being discharged from the Marines, family giving up on me and being estranged from my biological dad, I no longer carry any resentment toward my family, my biological dad or anyone else.

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I learned this year that dwelling on anything never helps and that meditation and living for yourself and doing the things which matter to you are the most important things you can do in your life.

Your life is your own, no one else can live your life, no one can write your stories.

Your entitled to the life you want, and don’t let anyone, anyone tell you different.

In modern time we see our life as a series of pictures our birth: birthdays, school, college, marriage, kids and we see the way its gone.

What about the expectations we had for our life when we started?

Where have the things gone we wanted to do, the life we wanted to live, the books we wanted to write?

Having expectations for our life is something which makes us who we are. We have dreams, goals and desires.

Each expectation is a bigger deal than the last.

We’re expected to do what our parents want us to do with our lives, but what if we want to do other things, what if we want to be a creative, be a writer, artist or actor?

Where does being a creative fit into the grand scheme of what society wants for us, regardless of our wants?

I hated college, I went only because it was my way out of a bad situation and in hindsight, I wish I wouldn’t have gone to college, I’d rather have spent my time, and my dad’s money writing, but I’m not sure he and my step-mother would have gone along with that idea.

I’ve always wanted more for myself than I felt my parents did.

I didn’t want to go to college, I wanted to be a Marine, when that fell through, I had nothing to fall back on.

I thought about traveling the world, working jobs to keep myself alive, there are times I wish I would have lived up to my own great expectations of who I wanted to be, but I lived life safely. I didn’t want to upset the relationships I’d built with my parents, I wish I’d been more like the person I am now, more willing to adventure than to do what I was told.

Now I’m more willing to take chances and risks. I’ve always felt I wasn’t allowed to be who I wanted; that there were restrictions, that I couldn’t be this that or the other. One of the things I felt my dad looked down on was creativity. Which, sorry to say, has always been my strong suit.

Twenty years ago I was afraid to be myself, afraid to take what I wanted to do and turn it into something else, something more like the life I wanted for myself.

I don’t regret my life or the choices I’ve made. Those choices are what led me to be a dad, husband and the experiences have made me a better writer.

We each have great expectations of what we want our lives to be.

Is your life what you wanted it to be when you were a kid, teenager or in your twenties?

Answer in the comments.