A couple of days ago, I was getting my haircut at a barber in downtown Philadelphia. Both the establishment and barber were new to me, so the standard questions came up. Where do you live? How long have you been in Philly? How on earth can you like the Mets? These I had heard before and had my standard quick responses ready. I also asked him of his life, and he told me his son, Joey, was a smart kid but confused about his future. He said Joey had decided to take a semester off from college and was living at home and working at a nightclub to his father's chagrin. His father had warned him that many kids taking off time from school often never went back. Joey's response was, "Dad, I just don't know what I want to do! I don't want to waste my time and your money." What a thoughtful kid.
The fact is, everyone makes decisions in life that seem brilliant at the time, but often come to a quick end and one moves on to other things. In a way, my entire professional career has followed this path. I worked hard in high school and went to Hotchkiss, one of the top prep schools in the country. Afterwards, I went to Kenyon spending vacations working internships in Chicago on foreign exchange trading desks. After graduation, I was offered a full time job from the same company and I headed there. I got tired of the work, and decided to go to the culinary school that I passed on my commute every day (lucky I rode the Ravenswood Line, huh?) After getting laid off a few months later, I used my growing skill to get into the professional kitchen which brought me to New York and then, eventually to Africa: an experience that has rearranged my life and put me on a new path. This path has me questioning my spiritual future and my faith. During my time in Africa, I also began communicating with my best friend from Hotchkiss whom I hadn't spoke to in years. So I moved to Philadelphia, and eventually asked her to be my wife.
I have heard, "why did you need to go to an expensive boarding school and a 4 year liberal arts college to become a chef? Wasn't that a big waste of time." Absolutely not. My life has led me through amazing situations, jobs, adventures and decisions. I regret not a single one. I am living the dream. Following what makes me happy and doing what I think is right. In fact, now I am in the process of writing a book with Judy Block, a friend of my mother's, but now I can say, a very close personal friend of mine too. You see? All of these decisions mean something.
So maybe Joey goes back to school and becomes a doctor. Maybe he doesn't and it leads him to something else. It sounds cliche, but following one's dreams is a very personal adventure, and one hardly ever understood fully by others. If you are following dreams, push on through. If you care for someone who is, give them a boost. As long as you move forward with positivity and love, your life will be the greatest adventure ever told.
Now let's see if a publisher agrees....