My mom told me once that my dad didn’t want any more kids. They had my two older brothers and after 8 years my sister was born and he was happy, he had a princess. But my mom convinced him my sister shouldn’t grow up alone, so there was my motivation. Not even an accident, I was born to be a sidekick.
I only mention that because I think it contributes to my inherent drive to mentor, to coach, to promote other people, perhaps because my parents were pretty apathetic about my dreams and goals. I was an over-achiever by my own merits, but sometimes when I read how Olympic competitors were supported by sacrificing parents, I wonder how far I might have gone. Good grades were easy for me, I had some musical ability and I know I sang my heart out getting ready for school, singing for my parents, whatever music I was working on in choir or the latest school musical in which I was starring. My mom told me a few years ago how she and my dad would sit at the kitchen table and laugh at my endless singing, how my dad would roll his eyes when I started. Wow. That was a revelation I didn’t need to know after 30 years.
I wanted to be an artist, to go to college for art, and my dad would say, “It doesn’t cost anything to dream!” He wanted me to go to trade school to learn computer programming which was a young field at the time, or automotive repair because people would always need a mechanic. And soon when I talked about a career in music or art my mom began to echo his words, “It doesn’t cost anything to dream!”
But at any rate, by the time I was in high school I found I get a charge out of being in somebody’s corner: Burgess Meredith to the real star of Rocky. I see desire and potential and I just naturally shift into “How can I help that happen” mode. I want to see dreams come true. So I’ve been a teacher, an advocate, a director, a coach. And I love it. I have helped people achieve careers, I’ve put people in the spotlight, I have put artist’s work on walls of galleries, and I’ve done my best to make introductions and open doors for those I see who could use encouragement, support, and opportunity.
I’m the guy who books the venue and throws the party. And then ya’ll come meet and mingle and I’m pointing out (sometimes with no subtlety at all) “Did you know Lois bakes wedding cakes?” and “You should read Parker’s new play!” Kind of like Dolly Levi, I put my hand in. Now I don’t have the greatest connections, most of my separations are about 47 degrees, but it will be a start. And I’m thrilled when I see those starts blossom into thriving plants that grow and explore. Just remember me when! So I get a vicarious thrill when a career explodes, when someone takes center stage, when people who deserve it get noticed and appreciated and applauded.
And I know I need to fill my gallery walls with art, it’s time to paint my own, but I have these overwhelming obligations and no partner, no patron. So I paint a couple pictures, and hang some of yours, and sing when the party’s over and the room is empty. What I do have is friends, marvelous friends who have become family, who encourage me. I’m doing my best to be my best, finally.
But can you imagine me a mechanic?