By chance, we happened upon him in a small gift shop. The clerk recognizing me laughed and said, “What a coincidence. She just bought a copy of your book.” She gestured toward a small woman browsing through a group of men’s sweaters.
That began a cordial conversation when I thanked her for buying the book. Her son, somewhere in his 30s, perked up and listened. He settled himself down on a comfortable sofa and said not a word until his mother said, “My son is a writer, too.”
A blush slid over his dark, pleasant face.
“Well,” he began in a quiet, humble tone. “I don’t write books. I’m a screen writer.”
“My husband is a television writer.” I exclaimed, gesturing toward Tink who had been gradually moving toward the door eager to continue on to dinner. That began a brand new conversation in which neither his mother nor I participated as they talked.
After college graduation, the young man had followed his dream of writing movies to Los Angeles. For several years, he managed to survive by taking smaller jobs in television. Though it was a struggle and certainly not lucrative, he was exhilarated by the experience. Without question, he was on a high as he chased the passions of his heart.
But things never took off like he wanted. Times got hard, jobs got fewer and more difficult to find.
Tink nodded. “It’s harder in the industry than I’ve ever seen it. These are tough times.”
The young man stood up and shoved his hands deep in the front pockets of his black jeans. He shrugged. Not a nonchalant shrug but one of hurt and disappointment.
“I miss L.A.,” he said wistfully, explaining that he had finally chosen practicality over his dream.
He had gone back to school, received additional training in the medical field, and was about to accept a job with a hospital.
I spoke up. “Are you happy with this career change? Is it what you want?”
He dropped his head slightly. “No. Not really but…” His voice trailed off.
“I’m sorry,” I replied.
It’s sad to watch someone have to choose a different career path than where the heart leads. There are few things sadder, really.
There is nothing more consistently heart-dampening than having to wake up each morning, tumble out of bed and stumble toward another day of going through the motions of making a living where you don’t thrive but rather merely survive.
I know. I’ve been there. I once worked a full-time corporate job and three times a week (and Saturdays) went to work at a retail job for minimum wage. Sixty hours of hard work that kept my body alive but dang near killed my soul.
Still, my dream lived on. While I straightened towels or rang up another sale, I daydreamed of writing books and creating stories.
When I lost that corporate job in a downsizing brought on by a merger, I tearfully pleaded with God, “Please, if you will just allow me to make a living by doing what I love — writing — I will never ask you to send me someone to love. Just help me to take care of myself and love doing it.” I was desperate.
He answered that prayer. And I kept my end of the bargain. But the good Lord kindly overlooked my vow and eventually gave me more than I asked.
I recognized the sorrow in his face. I understood clearly the calling of his heart.
“I know how it hurts,” I said softly.
He smiled tightly. “Well, I’m going to continue to write on the side and hope something comes of it.”
“Good for you.”
What I didn’t tell him, what I should have taken the time to say is: Dreams sometimes take a detour and may look hopelessly before coming true. But don’t give up.
Don’t ever give up.