Whenever someone says “you should _______ for you and nobody else. Otherwise, it won’t work.” is full of shit. I’ve existed on this earth for 35 years and I feel like only 4 have counted so far. I’ve had a really good life full of fun experiences, professional growth and an unbelievable friend/wife/partner/soul mate. I’ve had some personal accomplishments that I’ve been really proud of, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I really began to figure out what motivated me.
When I discovered I was going to be a Dad in 2010, it scared me because I had to tell my daughter to follow her dreams. I dreaded the reply “Daddy, are you following your dreams?”; because I wasn’t. Occasionally, I would hop up on a local stage and put together 5 to 10 minutes here or there, but I wasn’t a full-time comedian since 2001. Maybe I would write some new material, but the dream of being on a stage for a living was dead. I had resigned myself to corporate America ready to dive into the Abyss of 401ks, sportscenter and a lousy week on vacation supposedly justifying my other 51 weeks of hard work. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of people living their dreams working a job that supports their passion, but I wasn’t.
I want to ensure that my daughter forms real memories of me as a comedian: only. I’m okay with having another job, but I want it to be clear that Dad is living the message. In fact, I wish I had the courage to drop the day job now and trust I can provide for my family on comedy alone. That takes courage and I’m only 4 years into building mine up. One day at a time. Dream intact. It will happen. The side effect of pursuing a dream is that you excel in everything else, because you are happy. My day job couldn’t be going better for me. I just have to make sure I don’t let it consume me.
If you know me, you know I’ve started and stopped a lot of jobs, projects and goals. I’ve lost weight and gained it back 3 times. I’ve worked full-time as the house emcee in a comedy club, been a mortgage banker, started a consulting company to work with Biggest Loser contestants and owned a myriad of websites that were going to support pipe dreams to riches. I failed because I wasn’t motivated. I tricked myself over and over. “This is just a hobby. You can do this on the side.” But it’s not. I think about Improvisational comedy day and night. I’m consumed by it all of the time. I teach improv to Anna and her classmates. I preach it like it’s some sort of religion. I research it. I breathe it. I can hear Anna saying “Are you living your dream daddy?”. I’m preparing for the day and it’s coming soon. I’m proud of my answer. “Yes Anna. Yes Camden. I’m living my dream. Now it’s time to go get yours.” Every single thing I do is for her and my son. I don’t care what they want to do with their lives, but I will demand they blindly follow their passion until it manifests into more or until it evolves into something else.
I grew up in a supportive household. The word track was “Do what you love Casey. Always have a fallback just in case.” I think my mom meant well. I mean. My folks sent me off to college as a theater major, but the idea was to get a solid foundation as something else just in case. I won’t offer that option to my children. My fallback became my only thing instead of my 2nd thing. And I failed at it. Earlier this week I watched a speech Jim Carrey gave to some graduating students regarding the same thing. It ‘s worth the 26 minutes, but the most powerful moment is the lesson I had to learn 4 years ago. I failed at my fallback. I lost my home. The world didn’t give a shit about my security. It didn’t care if I was doing the “right” thing. 2008-2010 were really tough years. Fall-backs are bullshit. Spend your time doing what you love with the people you love and drop the people in your life that hold you back. You will succeed. There is no “If”. You have all of the talent to do anything you want. Now go do it.
Father’s day reminds me that this company is all for Anna and Camden. On the days that I just want to give up; those days where I don’t want to make sales calls for the company; the days I don’t want to update the site or promote the show; those times that I’d like to “fall back” and double down on the corporate job are the days I look into the very near future of the eyes of a person I’m responsible to inspire and make sure that I can say “I’m living my dream. I’m happy. I know how to make your dreams come true too.”
No fall-backs. No back up plans. Just dream and do. Do and dream. No matter your age, no matter your obligation. Just start making your dreams happen. I can’t tell you where your motivation needs to come from. You don’t have to be a parent, you don’t need to be an underdog. Your story doesn’t have to be inspiring. You just need to find out that thing that you can’t live without doing and that’s probably your thing.
I’m spending my Father’s day with my family, but also teaching Improv. It will be another perfect day.