Archive for June, 2014

For whatever reason, one of my family’s favorite places to eat is Texas Roadhouse.  They’ve got great salads and awesome burgers, but I suspect it’s not just the food that draws us: it has an atmosphere that’s, well, fun.  It’s loud, there’s a lot going on, there is almost always a birthday (or two, or three), and they play country music.  What more could you want?

How about clowns?  Well, not actually clowns, but there’s a guy who works there every Wednesday night, who walks around the restaurant making balloon animals for the children.  This happens to coincide with the “kids eat free” night, so it’s not a bad investment for a family dinner.

Hey, speaking of clowns–last week I went with my brother and his girlfriend to a restaurant called Tommy’s in Coventry for dessert (in my opinion, far better than Piccadilly, although it has its own merits as well).  While there, we happened upon a full-fledged clown who was also fashioning balloon structures (for lack of a better term) and passing them out to children of all ages–even adults.  In Coventry, this isn’t a stretch–there’s puppet guy, and ventriloquist guy, and a host of other artistic-types who are pretty regular fare in that area.

I was reflecting on what it would be like to be these people, to do what they do for a living.  Without a doubt, they may have day jobs; maybe Mike from Texas Roadhouse is actually a banker, or Coventry-Clown-Guy is a used car salesman.  One thing we know for sure, though, is that they have carved out a significant amount of time from their week to not only practice, but master and display, their talents.  And they do it, at least in part, to make people happy.  I’m sure it helps pay the bills, but I can’t imagine it pays them all that well, so I have to conclude that they honestly enjoy what they do for the reason that it brings joy into other people’s lives.  It is an awesome, noble cause.

Lately, I’ve been engrossed in a YouTube sensation you may have heard of, TED Talks.  If you are among the few who haven’t spent some time watching these, they are short presentations that can be given by just about anyone, on an extremely wide variety of topics.  They can be infuriating, inspiring, funny, interesting…you get the idea.  To me, these TED Talks, or more specifically, the people who orchestrate and participate in them, could be lumped into the same category along with our balloon-artistry friends…in that they are doing something with their personal/professional lives that plays into the willing enlightenment of others (side note: for those of my friends who are teachers, I don’t consider you in that group, since for the most part the participants aren’t there willingly, rather by necessity; it’s a minor distinction, but a different-enough one in my mind).

There are a host of other professions and hobbies in which the professional or hobbyist shares in one primary objective: the happiness or enlightenment of others.  Songwriters fit into the same category for me as well: although the entertainment industry is very much a for-profit venture, I believe that at its core lies the more worthy cause of expression of emotion in its various forms.  Here’s a lyric for you from a new song by Jason Mraz (my all-time favorite musician): “There are three things I do when my life falls apart: Number one I cry my eyes out and dry up my heart.  Not until I do this will my new life start, so that’s the first thing that I do when my life falls apart.”

Most of us get caught up in our everyday, sometimes boring lives, and we take for granted the things that allow us the opportunity to express emotion in such a free form.  One of the best emotional releases I have is during my daily commute, where I can crank the music up and sing to my heart’s content.  It’s not often, however, that I think about what affords me that opportunity: the singers and songwriters who make the content available for me to sing along with.

The same can be said about our balloon-crafting friends from Texas Roadhouse and Tommy’s. Sure, as a parent it’s great when someone else goes out of their way to put someone in your path that’s going to distract your annoying toddler for a few minutes and give them a new “toy” to take home that night.  Think about the people who make that possible: the restaurant owner or manager who hires that entertainment, or the person who has spent countless hours perfecting their craft to give a few moments of happiness to you and your kids.  You should think about them–because you can bet your ass they think about you.  I would argue that your smiling kid, along with your look of appreciation, is a big part of why they do what they do.

Your dedication to and support of this blog is one of the things that brings me happiness.  I’ve said it from the start: I’m an amateur at best when it comes to writing, but I do it because the thought of other people reading what I put down here and being entertained, challenged, or motivated, brings me joy.  And, if not for the people who I know read this blog, I wouldn’t feel compelled to continue working on new topics.  I certainly don’t get paid for it–and while I get some other constructive stuff out of it personally, you are by far my biggest motivation to persist.

Be well and stay tuned.