There was a time when I worked as an engineer, but I never truly loved the job. I liked the math and science, and creating things. I loved working on the computer, and helping people to create things, but there was always something lacking to the job. Then, when the economy went belly-up and I had to fall back on my writing and other talents, I began to understand what it was that I needed.
I needed some passion in my work.
Of all things, I thought back to an old Marx Brothers movie I’d seen a long time ago. It was “A Night at the Opera,” and was the first of their movies I ever saw. My dad and I went to the Second Story Cinema, in Oak Bluffs. At the time, I didn’t even know who the brothers were, but my dad assured me that I’d love the movie. He was right; it was hilarious! There was one scene that stood out, for me and it wasn’t the finale. That was a truly great scene, but there was something else, earlier in the film.
Chico and Harpo are stowaways on a ship. There’s a big party going on, lots of people singing and dancing, and Chico sits down at a piano to play. He’s incredible; then it’s Harpo’s turn. He sits at the piano and does the whole comedy routine that has the other people roaring with laughter. Then, as they continue to chuckle, he moves to lightly embrace a harp sitting conveniently off to the side. He looks up at it, love in his eyes, and then sits.
He starts to play. Oh, does he play! Everyone falls silent and just watches and listens, and the look of intensity and passion on Harpo’s face said it all. He loved the harp.
That one little scene stuck with me, long after the movie was over. Over the years, I tried my hand at various musical instruments, but always failed, truly, to make music. Another image from another source came to me. It was Major Winchester from the TV show “M*A*S*H.” In one episode, he spoke of being a great surgeon, but always wanting to play the piano. However, while he could play the notes, he could never make the music. That’s how I always felt, even in my work as an engineer.
Then I started writing. The change from an engineer to a writer meant about a 75% cut in pay, but I gained something in the transition: a job I could truly love, a job that evoked my passion. Now, each day, I sit and write, or walk our dog Juliet and run through plot points or dialogue, and every once in a while I think of Harpo. I do dream of hitting it big; selling the screenplay or getting that book on the bestseller list, but none of that is nearly as important as loving what I do.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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