My Kind of Town...Chicago Was or Take Heart Young Artists

The Auditorium Theater
So, Jake and I were sort of whisked away to Chicago last weekend. He's been doing commercials and video material for a live musical for the last three months, "The Merchants of Bollywood".

When it made it's North American Debut in Chicago last weekend, as a reward for all his hard work, we got to attend the show.

His boss put us up in a nice downtown hotel, got us box seats, and even treated us to some real deep dish Chicago pizza. The drive only took us four hours and the directions were easy to follow. The show was incredible, and more than anything else, we just had a great time walking the city, taking goofy pictures, and enjoying the very first day of truly chilly weather in America's third largest city.

But more than that, this weekend, and other life events that keep happening are just serving to reaffirm us that it's good to be creative. Good to follow your dreams. Good to go with your instincts. With the sad news of all the kids taking their own lives out of sheer hopelessness, I feel like it's more important than ever to simply share the simple truths about why life is worth living, and worth living to the fullest.

Jake before the show.
A few years ago, we were struggling with our creativity. Feeling lost and guilty and surrounded by people who meant well, but thought we were wasting our time being obsessed with movies, music, and pop culture.

It's easy for people to dismiss those interests as trivial or stupid. But things have a way of coming full circle. The things that may have made you weird or uncool growing up may provide you with a key to a career later in life if you can find the courage to stick with it and ignore the unhealthy criticism of others. (And seek the healthy criticism.)

It's that type of obsession with something that leads to a certain studiousness, that leads to expertise, and that may eventually lead to employment. Whether you go through traditional schooling or not, simply by doing what you love and working hard at it, that seems to get you somewhere in life. (THIS GUY was right!)

In another couple of weeks, we'll be taking off to Tampa, Florida, where we'll be treated to a VIP tour of Busch Gardens for a little magazine column I wrote a few months ago. That's just another example of what can happen when you work hard and trust yourself.

Now that's not to say we're so awesome, look at how cool we are. Pride really does seem to go before a fall and much of our luck has actually been a mixture of blessings and the results of really really hard work. We have a loooong way to go before we can say we've arrived. But I want to make a point to people who are struggling to even begin to do what they love and wondering if they should just give it up already.

The answer to that question is always no. "Never give up. Never surrender!

If you give it up, you won't really give it up anyway. You'll think about it all the time and then become bitter because you're not doing it. If you keep doing what you love, keep working, especially when things aren't glamorous or easy, something good is sure to come. If nothing else, a sense of peace and fulfillment will sweep over you knowing that you're just being yourself. Something a lot of people really struggle to become...themselves.

Just today, I was changing out some material in a display case that I tend to where I teach, and I had to remove some papers from a past display. Well, it turned out to be hand drawn comic book sketches on plain printer paper by none other than the late comic book legend Harvey Pekar. Here I was, not a year after his visit, touching with my own hands his art...his life, hand drawn here at Ball State and now he's gone forever. It's so important to trust that you are the way you are for a reason, that if you truly care about something in your life, painting, writing, music, etc., that there's a reason for that passion and you should follow it and not let anybody tell you otherwise.

So take heart artistic types. Go with your gut. If you do, you just may find yourself spending time doing what you love and then eventually, somebody may want to reward you for that somehow...whether that's with a paycheck or a trip to a cool city, it'll be worth it.

Another funny little connection? This song was in the show, which we've been singing for over five years when a girlfriend brought the movie "Kal Ho Naa Ho" back from India with her. It's when I fell in love with Bollywood, and I was obsessed with it around the time that Jake and I met. If you don't know much about Bollywood, you're missing out on a whole lot of kitsch, color, romance, and drama.

By the way, the translation of, "Kal Ho Naa Ho" means, "Tomorrow May Never Come". So you might as well live for today...and also, disco dance as much as possible. At least, that's the message I got.