I spent the first 30 years of my adult life as a consultant in the world of energy and the environment. I’ve done energy and solid waste audits of over 600 institutional and corporate buildings throughout the United States. During that time I wrote eleven separate manuals on energy conservation and recycling.
I was pretty good at what I did. My work was all about teaching facilities managers how to reduce costs by investing in new technologies and by adjusting their standard operating procedures. But that wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. During that 30 years, I also ended up writing three separate novels, over 30 short stories, and an account of finding my birth mother and learning that I’m mixed race. I wasn’t a consultant. I was a writer.
In the middle of all that my sons started to grow up. In the video, above, you will meet all three of them. My youngest, Conor, is the guy behind the camera. He wants to dedicate his life to making movies. Sam, my oldest, is committed to being a great elementary school teacher and changing the education system in Philadelphia. And my middle son, Jesse, is a minor league pitcher in the Phillies organization. All three boys have followed their dreams. I am humbled to know them and proud of who they are becoming in this world. And they are the most influential people I have ever known.
Jesse was drafted out of high school by the Phillies the same year that Sam graduated from college. Just three weeks after I watched Sam get his diploma at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, I watched my 18-year-old middle son head into the airport to fly down to Florida and begin the process of following every boys’ dream. By mid-summer that year, Sam knew that he wanted to be a teacher. All the while, their little brother was making movies and showing us all how committed and intelligent he could be as an artist.
At the time, I was a staff consultant to the Philadelphia Streets Department, assigned the position of Recycling Coordinator for the city. It was a plumb job and truly something I’d worked hard to obtain. But I wasn’t happy. I was watching my sons follow their hearts, but I wasn’t following my own.
That changed in late 2011. I quit my job. I hung up my consulting spurs. I said, “Up yours!” to The Man. On January 1, 2012, I went to work getting the first novel I wrote (back in the 1990s) ready for publication in the new e-book publishing world. After that, I published two books of short stories. My second one, Implosions of America, is something I am very proud of. The stories are serious attempts to get at the struggle of love, romance, marriage, and that old problem us Boomers have always faced: “Who the hell are we, and what is the point of life?” Implosions playfully points the way for the fiction that I will be writing now that I’m a 55-year-old near empty nester.
But I don’t mean to promote my work here. I only want to say that the film you can watch at the top of this post illustrates a lesson I have learned from my sons — each in his own way — that has given me the courage and the balls to follow my own heart. I write every morning now. And every afternoon I try to figure out the business of publishing in this new world of digital and independent art.
Trying to make it as an indie anything is tough work. But making it isn’t really the point. That is something I’ve learned from my sons. They work hard, are stupidly humble, and give their hearts (and humor) to what they do. That’s how you make something of yourself in life. That’s how you follow your dreams. That’s where the path with a heart may be found.
I hope you enjoy Conor’s little movie. Follow your heart. Maybe these three dudes will help inspire you too. Here’s the link to Divergent Paths if you’re about to forget to go back to the top.
For more work by Conor Biddle and his posse, check out LaughAMinuteFilms. Subscribe. You won’t be sorry.