The year was 1990. With gentle encouragement from my dearest friend, I took the first tentative steps toward fulfilling a childhood goal of becoming a writer (this is someone who derives their entire income from writing and that can still afford to eat every other day). As I was only 33 years old, it was a bit early for a mid life crisis and so instead, it was envisioned as pursuit of a potentially profitable, and fulfilling hobby.
Author Jim Hinckley signing books for anAustralian tour group.
Fast forward twenty-four years. The fulfilling and potentially profitable hobby, the quest has now morphed into an often fun filled adventure along twisted trails peppered with enticing, often distracting crossroads, and colorful people. It is now a full time job with minimal financial return but rewards of incalculable value in the form of friendships, previously unimaginable opportunities, and lots of travel with my dearest friend.
Some folks turn forty-five and set out on a tragically comedic quest to fool themselves into believing youth is restored with the purchase of a red Corvette convertible and a bottle of dye. The pursuit of fading youth has never been a concern in my world as ma said that I was born ninety and never aged.
If, however, there is a magic elixir that preserves youth, it is in acceptance of the fact that aging and the inevitable conclusion are an important part of the life experience. Harness the mid life crisis, at any age, by using the dawning realization that life is fleeting as incentive to sharpen the focus on the pursuit of dreams.Fraught with frustrations of the self induced kind, and plagued by the trials, tribulations, and consequences of choices made that are as a much a part of life as breathing, the pursuit of the dream has been an adventure beyond anything that could have been imagined when it began. I am writing this today with thoughts about an acquaintance in Texas, a talented young man who in the pursuit of a similar dream recently had a head on collision with the frustrating world of the publisher. Hang in there, amigo. This is just part of the adventure you have chosen. Besides, if you decide on pursuing a career in stand up comedy, you will have ample material. Granted, I lack experience in the real world of publishing and publishing profitably. Still, I find it odd that the plug would be pulled on a poorly selling book mere weeks before an interview with Jay Leno. Likewise, I find it strange that a company would lay off people do to sluggish sales while waiting for the monthly marketing meeting to determine if a book that enters a second printing in less than three months should be reprinted again. Did I mention that this was just weeks before the Christmas season that followed on the heels of major promotion? Did I mention that once the green light was given, it would be a minimum of sixty days before books would be available resultant of the delay?
Still, the pursuit of the dream continues. After the penning of a dozen books, and hundreds of feature articles, and countless associated adventures, I look back on the journey and shake my head in wonder, and toward the future with eager anticipation.As I rush to beat the clock on another fast approaching deadline, and to sell a publisher on the next project, the intertwined frustration and anxiety leave me wondering if, perhaps, it is to late in life to begin pursuit of my other childhood dream; owning a ranch in southern New Mexico, and pursuing the life of my high riding heroes. Then I give thought to the friends made on my quest over the years. I give thought to the adventures past, and the adventures to come, such as the fast approaching trip to the Netherlands. I reflect on the people that have been encouraged to explore the road less traveled, and make memories of their own because of something I wrote. Then I gaze into the gentle and loving face of my dearest friend, the one that encouraged me to pursue the dream, the one that has shared the adventures and the frustrations, the triumphs and disappointments, and I know that this quest has just begun. Then I reflect on the message learned on countless adventures on Route 66 – a journey should never be tainted with a myopic focus on the destination, it should be savored and enjoyed with friends.