There was a time I had to be told to go home – back when my now 17-year-old was only two. It was my first job on a live, nightly program. That’s an altogether different animal than creating two-minute taped video packages for news programs or even a thirty-minute stand-alone special on a subject of my superior’s choice. Live TV can carry an adrenaline rush purely because technical glitches and/or human error can lead to the unexpected; and when it’s live, the show must go on, no matter what. Figuring out how to make that happen seamlessly and without panic can be the greatest challenge of my job. And I’ve been lucky enough to rise to it well. These days, I only spend three hours a month in the control room for a live production, but at least half of my work hours in any given month are spent properly preparing for those three hours. The other half are spent on another program to which I am wholly unattached.
In short, times have changed. I no longer have to be told by colleagues or bosses to go home. Instead, I find myself asking, almost daily, from the moment I walk in the door, “Why am I here?” I read a quote this morning attributed to Buddha that I haven’t been able to shake from my brain: “Your work is to discover your work and then, with all your heart, give yourself to it.” Dismissing the fact that this probably didn’t come from Buddha, the sentiment rings true for me – loudly. And I want to follow it.
My day began by reading a response from my Sifu on an email I sent him about the aptitude of the new students. And that felt right. It was certainly more welcome than the emails I receive on the weekend about items that can wait until Monday. It was significantly better received than the phone calls from the assistants of so-called VIPs that have kept me on the clock until midnight, because the option of not answering simply didn’t exist without suffering repercussions on the job.
Talking about my kung fu students is exactly how my workday should begin. Tending to my students should be my work.
But I love pizza delivery and sushi bars, baseball games and movies. I love giving the perfect birthday gifts and making road trips through the old home state. I love standing reliably by, cash in hand, when my children have holes in their sneakers or needs braces. I love the security of a regular paycheck and benefits, which teaching kung fu full-time would likely never give me.
I am currently choosing security over passion. That’s the hard cold truth of my daily dilemma. That’s the answer when I walk into the office to “Why am I here?” The choice is mine today and will remain mine indefinitely.
Six months until the braces are paid for. That gets me almost to the end of baseball season – more than enough time to fill up on pizza while I can still afford it.