Is that all there is?…

Every once in awhile I read something or hear something that resonates with me in a profound way. Often it comes from a very odd source, like Bill Simmons‘ column for Page 2 at ESPN.com.

Simmons is writing this week about Theo Epstein, the wunderkind who took over as GM of the Boston Red Sox at the tender age of 28 and helped them break their 86 year World Series drought. The Red Sox owners lowballed Theo in contract negotiations and then bad-mouthed him in their house organ the Boston Globe. He had enough and walked away from what he’d told everyone for several years was his dream job. Folks around Boston and fans of baseball are shocked. For Red Sox fans Theo Epstein was like the Messiah. He brought them the World Series. I’m in the camp that figures he’s pretty overrated, but still quite good at his job, but there’s no denying, even if it was merely coincidence, that he was there at the right place and the right time and several of the moves he made as GM were genius – chief among those would be signing Curt Schilling.

What caught my eye in Simmons’ column about Theo’s departure was one of his theories about why Epstein walked away from his dream job. Here’s one of the money quotes:

When you dream about doing something for a long time, and then it happens, it’s never actually as good as you think it would be. There’s almost a surreal letdown of sorts after the fact. And it’s impossible to explain unless it’s happened to you.

That smells familiar. Ten years ago I got to join my first fully functional working professional band and got to tour the US. It was an altogether brilliant ride and if I had the chance to do it over again there wouldn’t be so much as a heartbeat’s hesitation. And it was also one of my childhood dreams fulfilled. It also led me to the opportunity to fulfill a few other childhood dreams: to record an album (I’ve made six since then), to learn to engineer and record music (I’ve recorded a pile of stuff, most of which I’m pretty proud of) and to perform in front of crowds of enthusiastic fans on many occassions.

The thing is, at every single one of these turns of fortune living the dream took something away from me. A couple of years ago I found myself sitting in my living room asking “now what do I do? What do I strive for now that I’ve lived my dreams?” Ultimately my dreams weren’t all that impressive or lasting anyway, so finding other sources of inspiration wasn’t such a chore. I can only imagine how it feels to be Theo Epstein. He dreamed of running his favorite baseball team, got to do it and not only that, he took them to a World Series victory and broke the Curse of the Bambino. His “now what?” moment must have been crushing.

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