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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Rapid Eye Real Life

If you're arriving here by some other means than a click-over from Up For Poker, I'd suggest you read this first. It will make this post make a lot more sense

Over the years here on RER, I've written a lot about my dad. Many of you got to know him last year, either personally or through a blog, as he battled death and survived. I realized a lot of things during those months about my relationship with my father. I realized that I'd spent my entire life trying to impress him with my career instead of taking some risks and following my dreams. What was harder to realize is that I couldn't blame him for that. All along, Dad had been the one trying to convince me that I should chase rainbows and silly dreams. Dad, while one of the most practical people I've ever known, is a dreamer deep down. And he worked his entire life so I could dream out the life he knew I wanted to dream

When I thought Dad was going to die, I spent hours staring into the darkness realizing that by trying to impress my father with my practicality, I had been doing the exact opposite of what he'd dreamed for me. The cognitive dissonance mixed with the tears was a little too much for me to handle.

Here's something that a lot of people don't know about my dad. When I was still very young and my brother was a baby, Dad had a regular job and was essentially partners with a guy he didn't care much for.

See, Dad came from a very humble background. Countless brothers and sisters, living in a small house, transplants from some Texas dustfield. He told me stories when I was young (I never knew whether to believe them) about sharing bath water with his siblings to conserve on the water bill.

And as such, he was a bit of a dreamer. He did a little time in college, but never finished. Still he dreamed of owning his own business. And so, when he was in his early 30s, with two kids and a stay-at-home wife, Dad decided he was going to open his own business. For a man who was the only income for a family of four, and with a mortgage and bills up to his eyes, it was a decidedly risky move.

And you know what? It worked.

A few years back, Dad sold his business and, not yet 60, Dad is retired, playing golf and spending time with his family, especially his only grandson.

When my Dad was about to go into a surgery that could've killed him, I sat alone at his bedside and told him what I'd never told him before. I'd lived my life by his example and only wanted to impress him with whatever success I could find.

And for the most part, that was true. Except for one thing: I've not taken many risks in my day. With the exception of moving to GreenVegas with no solid job in place so that I could be with my wife, I've lived a fairly practical, risk-free life.

If I'm going to make good on what I told my dad when I thought he was going to die, if I'm going to be any kind of success in my life, if I have any hope of living out a life of accomplisment and self-worth, I'm going to have to live by my dad's example and take some risks.

Easier said than done, I suppose.

Back to a mainland mindset

By the time I made it back from the Bahamas, I'd sobered up a bit. Being a writer is a fun thing to think about and all, but the impracticality of it all just seemed too much. Still, I started doing some calculations with my wife's salary and trying to figure out how much I would have make to quit my job and write fulltime.

I'd made some contacts in the Bahamas that sounded promising. But they weren't enough to justify quitting my job. And so I resigned myself to working my fulltime job, hoping that something potentially good might hapen in that arena, and writing when I could.

Writing that paragraph makes it all the more odd to write this:

About an hour ago, I turned in my two weeks notice.

Wha happened?!

Funny thing, life.

For many years I've been a big believer that good things happen to me and if I just wait long enough, something will come along that is so obvious that I won't have to think about it. I'll just know.

Last Spring I started re-evaluating that concept. I'd been waiting for a while for something obvious to come along and it hadn't. I started thinking that maybe I'd have to take some proactive measure to make something happen for me.

While I suppose I did that to some degree, in all honestly, I was just having fun, writing about poker and being Otis.

And then last week an opportunity presented itself. It's an opportunity that will essentially allow me to do everything I've always wanted to do. What's more, it will pay me well enough that I don't have to worry about my kid going hungry.

With it, though, comes some risk. While I'm going to have a steady gig, I'm going to be out on my own, without a net. I'm leaving behind the only career I've ever known. In the TV business, getting out of the business ain't necessarily suicide, but it's damn close. What's more, my new gig will be closely related to an industry that is still in its infancy.

Simply put, I put all my chips out there and Life called.

I'm not quite ready to fully disclose exactly what I'll be doing. Some discretion is required here, and I'd appreciate it if you would keep from speculating in the comments. If you know me, you likely have a pretty good idea what it is. And if you don't have a good idea, shoot me an e-mail and I'll fill you in.

Let's put it this way: On Thursday I'm flying to Denmark for the Scandanavian Open poker tournament. Next stop? Deauville, France and the French Open.

There are some sacrifices involved in this new life of mine which I'll detail at another time. I just figured since this became official today, you, my friends, deserved to be the first to know.

***

I don't know where we're going, folks. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm about as scared as I ever been professionally. But it is a good scared. And as Mrs. Otis said the other night, "If it doesn't scare the hell out of you, it's probably not the right thing to do."

I owe a lot of people for what's about to happen to me. You all know who you are and don't need public thanks. You've all been reading me for some time and encouraged me to live out this dream. At the same time, I think you all should know that without my mom, dad, brother, and wife, I'd never have the courage to do this. I love you guys in a way that I'll never be able to write.

And lastly, toWil Wheaton: I've never met you, but you've had more of an effect on my life than you'll ever know.

Here we go, folks.

Holy freakin' cow.

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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
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