Family, Fame, & Fortune

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”   1 Timothy 5:8

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know that I started as a classically trained stage actor. In the days before fame hit, I worked with Tom Hanks at The Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Cleveland (Lakewood, actually, back then). In Detroit I also worked with Tom Sizemore. Therein lies the ying and the yang, so to speak, of the world of fame and fortune.

Tom Hanks was a great guy when I knew him. His good guy reputation is well-deserved. I’ve seen nothing in performance or interviews to tell me he’s changed. He’s weathered world-wide fame. I couldn’t’ help having some jealous tinges when he recently was given a lifetime achievement award at the Kennedy Center. They really went all out for him. And he deserved it. I couldn’t help wondering if, with different choices, I couldn’t have been there too.

But I know me. I know I could have gone over to the “dark side.” That’s Tom Sizemore. I liked the guy in Detroit. I’ve been saddened by his troubles and heartened by his recent pull out of his nose dive. I wish him well and pray for him.

Other actors I’ve worked with on stage have told me their experiences in LA. I assure you the casting couch is very real, and it’s for the guys as well as the gals. Drugs? Oh, yeah! I think I was about the only guy who never smoked pot, let alone all of the other stuff available as you rise in the ranks.

Why didn’t I make it? What choices did I make that took me down the other fork in the road from those guys? Well, Julie and I were going to move to Chicago to get started in my acting career. However, she was pregnant one short month after our wedding. I could see no way that I could ask her to leave family and friends and go through pregnancy and single motherhood while I chased a dream. That’s to say nothing of steady income and benefits.

I don’t resent my choices. I love my family, and I love that my kids still talk to me into their adulthood. I never got on that well with my parents. That’s worth something. I chose to put family first. When I get those woulda-coulda-shoulda pangs, I remind myself that I’ve got a faulty perception. I’m not thinking about the price of both Toms’ successes. Even Hanks has troubles with a drug-addled son. I’m guessing it’s maybe got something to do with all of the incredible projects he’s done over the years and maybe not being there all the time when that child needed him. Not condemning him, just seeing what could’ve been me with the problems as well as the accolades. You never know for sure.

I think God protected me from those ills. I was “famous” as an undergrad; a big fish in a small bowl, and I didn’t handle it well. I can only imagine what real fame could have done to me.

At the end of the day, when you might be thinking that you wish you might’ve done something else instead of sacrificing for your family, when you might be considering choosing for you instead of those kids and that spouse, think of the verse above. Act on the belief you profess. The reward is much greater, now and in eternity.

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