The little kid stood back from the small table in the corner of the dentist office, where he’d been playing with a couple of toy die-cast cars, and told his mom that he wanted to become a veterinarian when he grows up so that he could help his friend Petey’s dog. He told his mom that the dog, named Shadow, needed to have surgery on its back leg.
His mom patted him on the shoulder and told him that was nice to have a goal. He went back to playing and she went back to reading messages on her phone. A few minutes later, he told her that he changed his mind. He instead wanted to become a racecar driver so that he could drive fast. He would drive her everywhere they needed to go.
“And I would drive really, really, really fast Mommy,” he said, pronouncing “really” so that it sounded more like “weally.”
She again patted him on the back.
Oh the places you’ll go
While I waited, I got to thinking about the careers I wanted to follow as a kid. Like the little boy, I seemed to change my mind with every passing tick of the clock. At one point in time, I too wanted to be a veterinarian and work with dogs and horses. I thought it would be neat to care for them and help get them back to good health.
I wasn’t a big fan of cats though. I’m not sure what I thought I would do about them. Fortunately for felines everywhere, my pursuit of a veterinary career was short-lived.
Throughout much of my childhood, I lived and breathed baseball and I dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. I saw myself in Pittsburgh Pirate black and gold, but eventually I saw that was going to be a pipe dream. I stopped growing and other bigger kids just kept getting bigger and bigger.
I still plodded on. I’ll show them I told myself. I may be the smallest player on my team, but that just means I need to play with more heart. While a good attitude, it didn’t help me when it came time to hit the curveball.
The next best thing
When the dream of being a baseball player eventually died, I thought my love of the game might help me in other ways. I knew batting averages inside and out. I knew immediately that when Willie Stargell, one of my favorite Pirate players, went 1 for 3 with a home run, his batting average would be .300.
With that kind of knowledge, I thought a career in math might be in the future, but when the math got harder than just basic averages, I knew I was in trouble.
Like most kids, I thought about becoming a fireman or policeman, but I hated everything about fire, truth be told, it scared me, and thanks to my smallish size, I was more willing to try to talk my way out of a bully’s push than fight my out.
Unlike anyone else I knew, I thought for a time I might become a preacher or pursue a career in Psychology.
I loved how the good preachers would tell stories that captivated your attention and made God real. I loved how they would leave people feeling positive and excited for the future and would leave their parishioners wanting more. (Oh yea, that would have worked well with my introverted nature. My response to anyone who would come to see me for spiritual advice or guidance would have been: Why are you telling me this? Go work it out. Now that would be a real nice response on my part.)
Stumbling upon a career
While these are all good and noble professions, none felt right. I find it hilarious now to think about the twists and turns my life’s work took. My friends in high school used to joke about me becoming a writer, but that had more to do with my voracious appetite for reading than anything I ever published.
When I envisioned a career in communications years ago, I know I never envisioned a career in corporate communications. I’m not sure I would have even known what that entailed.
I’m envious of the people who know from day one the career or profession they want to pursue. They often times just know. My wife is like that. From an early age, she befriended her special needs neighbor and just always knew that she would spend her life as a teacher.
Me, less so. My career has taken various twists and turns. In the end, I suspect that’s just what I’ve needed. I must admit I wouldn’t mind spending a day in each of my many once-upon a time careers.
Couldn’t you see me in front of a packed church or taking the field at Yankee Stadium. Okay, maybe not, but it’s still fun to dream.