Remember my ex-coworker Todd? The guy who quit his cushy corporate job to pursue his dream of becoming a singer/songwriter? Well over a year later, he's my coworker again.
Several months ago, I headed over to the Temple Bar to watch him play. It was a great performance, especially considering he was severely intoxicated after having opened for Sheryl Crow at a Sony event just a few hours earlier. When he was done, I walked over and chatted with him, stepping aside every few seconds to allow various females to hug the guy.
He talked about his gigs in Europe. He talked about all the fascinating people he'd met. He talked about coming back to fucking advertising.
"Listen, man," he said. "You guys have any account positions open?"
"Are you insane?" I asked. "Why the hell would you want to come back? Don't you even think of going back to the world of sad, dreary reality."
But in the end, it was reality that was sucking him back in: His bank account was nearly running on empty. As a full-time job, dream pursuit paid shit.
We were eating lunch at Taiko last week when Todd pointed to a copywriter who was eating at the next table. Like Todd, he was a singer/songwriter with a CD you can buy on Amazon.com. Surprisingly, they weren't the only employees at the agency who had their own albums.
"You know Mark, the account planning guy?" asked Todd. "He's got one too."
I thought of another copywriter at our agency who sold a screenplay that eventually turned into a Martin Landau movie. The film came out five years ago and went straight to video, which you can probably now buy on Amazon.com. That copywriter's still here, working on Lexus ads - just as he was doing before he sold his script.
I'd always figured that in the near future I could get out of advertising and spend the rest of my life creating things that didn't involve getting people to buy crap they didn't need. I still think it's possible, but I'm just not sure how possible. As Geney Boy once told me, LA is filled with aspiring writers who sold their first screenplay and then never sold anything again. They then ended up back at their day jobs as lawyers, preschool teachers and shoe salesmen.
Todd had figured out a while back that money doesn't buy happiness. Which is why he quit his high-paying job and became a musician. But then he learned that while it may not buy happiness, money does buy security, stability and comfort. And at this point in life, he was happy enough with that.
But don't get me wrong: Todd still performs at local joints and is working on his next album. And me, I still aim to finish that fucking screenplay. And, if I'm lucky, one day it too will be selling on Amazon.com.
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