Monday, March 7, 2016

Past Glories or Between Glories

We all know that person whose best days are behind them, The high school sports hero. The failed entrepreneur. The divorcee who never got over it. You may yourself feel that all of your glory is in the past.

I once felt that way. Not long ago, I thought that all my best days were behind me.

Between 22 and 23, I graduated college, met a woman to whom I would become engaged, started a business. Over the next couple of years, that business, a store called Phoenix Games, became a great center of community for dozens of people, and I led it. I co-founded and helped to lead a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast called the Come Again Players that was a center for dozens more people. I co-founded and led Pi-Con, the primary sci-fi convention for the Western Massachusetts geek community.

How I saw myself in 2006.
It was a small mountain, but I was living on top of it.

During my 27th year, I broke up with that fiancee, I was involuntarily removed from leadership of the Come Again Players. I was convinced to step down from leading Pi-Con and subsequently entirely pushed out of the organization.

By my 28th birthday, most everything that was most important to me in my life was gone. It was gone because I failed to understand one thing, which is that without other people we are nothing. My power in that community was because other people made that community possible. I coordinated them into great organizations, and that was valuable, but those who worked with me were equally valuable. I got caught up in my own greatness and forgot that my greatness was only the result of my relationships with others, and I had not properly appreciated those relationships.

The next few years, I got by, struggling a bit financially and wondering what would be next. I tried a few endeavors like the ill-fated Nexus Faire, but I was clearly past my prime. At 29, I was washed up.

It was then that I had the opportunity to speak to Terrance Zdunich, the director and creator of Repo: The Genetic Opera, which was recently out and quite popular in certain circles. I was volunteering with Wicked Faire, and my task was to help Terrance with whatever he needed while was a guest. I
Terrance Zdunich played the role for me
that is usually reserved in movies
for grizzled old bartenders
and wise black janitors.
had a conversation with him in which I mentioned that I was approaching 30 and didn't feel I had accomplished much. He said something I will never forgot. He told me that when he was 30, he had not even thought of Repo: The Genetic Opera yet. When he was my age, the achievement that brought him fame was not even a twinkle in his eye.

That put things in perspective.

By 32, I had gotten into the car business and started making a decent living, discovering for the first time in my life what it was like not to struggle and count every penny.

Amazing wife Amy and
beautiful daughter Rowan.
By 33, I had met the woman who would become my amazing wife.

At 34, my daughter Rowan was born, and I knew that if I did nothing else in my life, raising her could provide all the purpose I would need.

At 35, the opportunity for my current job appeared, and I seized it. Working with Minuteman has given me the opportunity to work with a fantastic variety of people and organizations from Sofia Sees Hope and Fairview to having my show Open for Business on WBLQ to coordinating the Third Thursday New London Art event.

Life goes in cycles, up and down. When we are up, it is easy to believe that we can see the vast horizon and be fooled that it will go on forever. When we are down, it is easy to look back at the mountain behind us and see its glory, and it is easy to be fooled into thinking that the glory of the mountain behind us cannot be matched by anything in the future. That is merely a trick of perspective.

Every experience. Every challenge. Everything we do makes us wiser and stronger. As long as we do not give up and do not surrender to the fallacy that our best days are behind us, then the glories of the past will merely be foreshadowing of the glories of the future.