The day my six-year old daughter told me she wanted to drive an ice cream truck, I put a lock on the basement door. It occurred to me that if the children couldn’t enter the basement, they couldn’t live in it as adults either. I love ice cream-don’t get me wrong, but I’m also an eternal pragmatist. You can’t eat it every day and fit into your pants. More importantly, you can’t drive it all over creation with gas at almost four bucks a gallon and pay your bills.
But to a six-year old, driving an ice cream truck is whip cream, extra nuts, cherry on top kind of success. There are no obstacles too big, no fears too paralyzing, no bills in the mailbox to prevent them from running straight to the recycling bin in search of boxes from Costco from which they begin to build their empire. A few rolls of Scotch tape and several dried out markers later, they’re in business.
If loving what you do was that easy. We’ve all heard the stories about the corporate executives that gave it all up to open a Pet Pedicure Parlor and have never been happier. That’s fantastic, but something tells me they have a bit saved up for when it stops raining cats and dogs. When did I get so cynical? When did I stop believing in the ice cream truck? What was it that I wanted to be when I grew up?
Somewhere between our first mortgage payment and insuring a male teenager on a vehicle, I realized that what we love to do is more often replaced by what we have to do. I’ve only known a few people who knew what they wanted to do shortly after the embryonic stage, stayed the course, made all the right decisions, and landed where they intended. Speaking for the rest of us, we labor over Myers Briggs tests and online surveys, we pay career coaches and life coaches and take coach buses to seminars trying to find our colors or parachutes or both. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll find something that you love and that pays the bills. That is cherry on the top kind of success. And it looks different for everybody.
Recently, I’ve been faced with deciding my major, once and for all. In other words, is it going to be an ice cream truck driver or a pet pamperer? Finishing college when you are …well, long after you are supposed to…is a second chance. This time around, cynicism works in my favor. I’m old enough to know what I’m good at, young enough to try something new, smart enough to know that the money will come, but wise enough to know it doesn’t really matter.
I want to write. I want to be Erma Bombeck when I grow up. I’ll know I’ve arrived when I can write something that people other than my mother want to read. Until then, may we all believe in the power of the ice cream truck! May you still hear the tinkling of the bells, run out the front door, and place your order with utter abandon! Driver, make mine a double…scoop!