Death Bed Career Counseling

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Reality doesn’t have a resort button.

– Merlin Mann

Merlin could just as easily say, “life doesn’t have a reset button.” You got what you got. You make with it what you make with it. You’ve heard the stories about the person born in the third world who travels to another country, starts a business, works their pants off, and becomes a success. Yeah, I hate them too. They completely blow the curve, don’t they?

Ok. But here is the thing. There are things you want to do. Things you think of from time to time, between driving the kids to school and trying to remember where you stuck that motion.

I really would like to be able to play the piano.

The reason you never learned to play the piano is because you never started. It is not your parent’s fault. It’s not the fault of your school district’s reduced art program. It’s you. It was your choice to never sit down and do it. The reason George Bailey never got to see the world, is that he chose not to. He had the bags and the money. He could have kicked the dust of that podunk Bedford Falls off his feet and just kept going. Side note: lawyers are the devil, aren’t we?

But, it’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.” George discover it was the right choice all along!

Yes, but it took facing death to face to come to terms with his choices. George found that he made the right choices. Well, sure. Can you imagine what a downer it would have been if after all the crap piled on top of George in the first half of the movie, when Clarence shows him the consequences of his actions it turns out that the world would have been better off without him? You know, “It’s a Wonderful Life” wasn’t a hit when it came out. Can you imagine the reaction to this version? People would have rioted!

I’m going off on a tangent. The point is, that we often don’t look at our lives and decide if we like the choices we make until we are on out deathbed. Steven Pressman in The War of Art talks about the realizations people make when confronted with a catastrophic and likely fatale illness. They quit their jobs, and do what they always wanted. They cut out the crap in their lives and focus on the things that actually matter. For many people, the blinders are finally off.

Oh, it’s so awful that it takes an illness to make people realize what’s really important.

No, what’s awful is lying in bed dying and realizing that you really should have tried driving an ice cream truck, or work a summer as a barista. (Yeah, I’d like to try my hand at being a barista. If you got a machine or a shop and want to show me, call or drop me an email.)

The point is that realizing what you really wanted and what you should have been doing all along when you are on your deathbed, is a bit too late.


No! We’re not doing Citizen Cane! It’s Capra for this post. We get what we get, we make of it what we make of it. What are you going to make of it? Me, I’ve got a book to get back to.