I will be the first to admit that I was never much for reading and learning. For a great portion of my life, I swam in the shallow end of the pool and bragged about how much taller I was than the water. Then, as water will do, it subsumed me.
I suppose it takes a big man to admit how wrong he was for so long, even if it took so long. But I’m there. Perhaps it was the eight years of therapy.
After mistaking career success for happiness, I decided to man up and actually do the research necessary to get to a point where effort and success traveled the same long and winding road. I became good at what I did, not because I cozied up with fellow douchebags, but because I became smart and surrounded myself with people even smarter.
I helped run a successful ad agency and lived “the life.” I pitched and won huge deals, spoke on public stages, and became an executive producer of an award-winning documentary. I may have still been feeding my massive ego, but now I was earning it.
Then, I got married. We had two sons. I became a stay-at-home dad and wrote a memoir, the inspirations of which began in therapy, with the words themselves being penned in my San Francisco living room. Joey Somebody: The Life and Times of a Recovering Douchebag, four years in creation, was steeped in both exercise and exorcise. I worked through and shared a lot of trauma but my emotional muscles felt great at the end. It was exhausting.
Now, I am present more often than not. Henry David Thoreau once wrote “you must live in the moment, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” I used to launch myself on every wave because of how cool I looked. Now, I find the eternity.
As I write this I am more than a dozen episodes into my podcast Laugh Your Cry Out, where I discuss “big subjects” with media executives, academics and theoreticians. So far we’ve discussed safe spaces and defunding the police, critical race theory and mental health. I may be a proud liberal, but I call out the left when needed. I do the same with the right. It’s about truthful, vigorous dialogue and debate, not falling in line. It’s exactly where I want to be.