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Living the Dream

Who’d have thunk it.

I watched a new show on Netflix that had a guy I’d never heard of, but who‘s apparently very famous, and Kate Mckinnon, a very funny woman I have heard of. They were in Cambodia, eating odd food and seeing odd sights.

At one point, they talked about the intensity of their careers and whether they’d ever thought about quitting. The man said he often thought of moving to the woods and learning how to weld. Ms. Mckinnon said she would make kitchen cabinets.

You’ve heard the phrase, “Living the dream…”

It sounds like I’m living someone else’s dream.

I’m used to people telling me how lucky I am to be a writer. I agree. The downside to being a writer is that you don’t make much money, people who couldn’t do what you do tell you what to do, and occasionally you have your hopes, dreams, and self-esteem shattered. Even with that, yes, it’s a great life.

When I ran the café, people told me how they’d always dreamt of running a restaurant. I did it for free, which is what I do best in the business world, and other than never getting enough sleep and my beard smelling like bacon, I agree it was a fun gig.

So, I’m used to people telling me I lead a good life and I don’t disagree. I confess, though, I didn’t see the welding and cabinet making envy thing coming.

I weld and make cabinets just for myself, but I know welders and carpenters, and I can’t wait to tell them how wonderful their lives are, that rich and famous people are jealous of their careers.

It’s funny, the things you remember. My first thought on hearing the welder envy was to flash back to the time our manure spreader rusted out. Instead of buying a new one, we bought some sheet metal and made a new floor. There is nothing quite like the smell of burning hog manure. At least, I hope not – one smell like that in the world is plenty.

I think I understand where this envy is coming from. These people don’t really yearn to enter the world of skilled blue-collar work. They just lead complicated lives, and every now and then, the idea of what looks like a simpler life is appealing.

Which is crazy talk. Leading a life away from wealth, power, and television cameras is no less complicated and no less challenging. Sure, there’s the pleasure of looking back at the end of a day and seeing a tangible product, something real and useful that you’ve helped to create, but once you leave the shop, you step into a messy, confusing world no matter who you are.

A story I’ve always loved was told by Lee Trevino. Before he became rich and famous, he made a living hustling other golfers. After he won a major tournament in a sudden death playoff, he was asked if the pressure bothered him.

“Pressure?” he said. “This wasn’t pressure. Pressure is playing for five bucks a hole when you only have three dollars in your pocket.”

I don’t doubt that being rich, famous, and always in the public eye can be very stressful. But paying your bills on Thursday with the paycheck you hope you’ll get on Friday can be a little stressful as well.

I’m off to weld something.

Copyright Brent Olson 2019

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