I recently had an encounter with a friend of mine who I don’t see particularly often. She’s an actress and a singer, and during our conversation I learned she had found herself producing a short series of television shows for kids through some obscure chain of connections, acquaintances, and opportunities.

Now, producing a TV show is not easy. Not even a little. The producer has his or her hands on absolutely every step of the process, from pre-production to post-production, and is often the only one with an eye on the big picture and larger arc of the project. It can be a stressful, sleepless job, and generally is craziest just before it’s all done. This is where my friend was when we spoke. I asked if she’d had a chance to consider what was coming next — what she was thinking of doing with the experience.

“You know,” she said, “it’s kind of an odd thing.”

“I could keep going. It turns out I’m actually pretty good at this, and this one little gig has opened up doors that would lead to some fantastic opportunities, and ultimately could make for a really comfortable living. And I can’t kid myself — I’m no Julia Roberts or Celine Dion. The odds of making it ‘big’ in either of those worlds that I’ve been exploring for the first part of my career is pretty dang small.”

“But I sort of feel like I went to Madison Square Garden with a soccer ball. I was just looking for somewhere to play when I walk onto an unfamiliar court with a game going on, and suddenly a basketball gets tossed my way. I start dribbling and passing out of instinct, you know, just trying to keep up with the people around me so I don’t get clobbered.”

“So I keep dribbling and passing and somebody says, ‘Hey Kid — you’re pretty good!’”

“And I mean, come on. Who doesn’t like to be told they’re good? Especially when they’re in the middle of a game in Madison Square Garden? So I start working a little harder, dribbling cleaner and running faster, trying to impress and such. And sure enough, soon someone else goes, ‘Kid — you wanna play for the NBA?’”

“And I sort of feel like that’s where I am right now. The allure of the lights and fame — such as it is, what with it not actually being the NBA and all — is pretty damn compelling. But then I find myself looking over at the bench, and see my lonely soccer ball just… sitting there.”

“If I do this, if I ride this wave, I’ll have a blast. And I’ll be successful. And it’ll be fine. But I didn’t get into it because I was crap at soccer and needed an alternative, it was just a little cosmic accident. And honestly I’m not ready to give up my small-time success and journey for the first shiny alternative that comes along. Because small-time for this thing that I love, that completely resonates with my sense of self… it’s just not something I can walk away from so easily. And believe me, I’ve tried to convince myself to do it. Turns out though that for me, it’s worth spending some more time wandering around the Garden, looking for the right game.”

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