Looking Back — the Stones had it Right
By Michael Solomowitz
As the song goes (the other song, that is) … you can’t always get what you want.
Growing up, I wanted to hang out with the Beatles and date Raquel Welch. I mean, who didn’t? I wanted to be six feet tall and fly like Superman — without a jet pack — just jump into the wind and take off when I had the urge. Oh yeah, I also wanted to win the Pulitzer Prize.
What I really wanted was to play centerfield for the New York Yankees.
What a way to live — a couple of hours a day playing ball in the sun with the scent of cut grass around you; making more money than you’d ever need; fans begging for your autograph; being recognized wherever you went; hanging out with famous people; living in a beautiful home near the beach with a pool; traveling the world in private planes. Yeah, that’s the type of life I wanted.
At some point — way too late to get started — I realized I had never actually played baseball or even mastered the basics. I had hit a few balls once and tried softball — rising to captain of my high school team — but never seriously enough to devote my life to the game.
There were other careers I considered but didn’t, you know, spend enough time or effort to make them realistic goals.
As a child of the sixties I thought about becoming an astronaut for a countdown of about ten seconds. That might have taken care of the fame, fortune and admiration but I figured I had a better chance of surviving to old age — higher up on my bucket list — if I kept my feet planted firmly on planet Earth (until I went parachuting).
Becoming a school teacher was considered but not too seriously. I loved to draw but was never that good at it. I owned my own company for a while — buying and selling sports memorabilia and running auctions through a catalog — but that was just to bring in some cash while I figured out what I really wanted to do.
I had always enjoyed writing. Long after I had moved out of my family’s crowded Brooklyn apartment, my mother found our collection of annual Almanacs in which I’d inscribed journal entries of the day on the inside covers.
My writing developed. I wrote poetry and scenes with dialogue and lyrics to songs (mostly during class when I was bored). I conjured essays and short stories. In high school, I joined the school newspaper and yearbook staff, and in college, was a reporter for several periodicals while pursuing English as a major.
Yet, despite my love affair with writing, just about everyone who knew me — including mom — suggested I find a legitimate career and “write on the side” (how I hated that suggestion). Whether due to obstinance or persistence, I refused to listen to any of them.
The first blurbs I sent to a New York sports columnist were printed in his column along with my first public accreditation. I was hooked. A sports journalist. That would combine my desire to meet ballplayers and write. I would eventually write for a number of sports publications but that was on a free-lance basis and only lasted a couple of years. Still, it was encouraging to walk past a newspaper stand in the city and see my latest effort in print.
While neither fame nor fortune found me, I was able to establish a writing career and generate paychecks, however meager, into my bank account. I explored everything. I wrote television scripts and press releases, tried my hand at editing and copywriting, moved to Hollywood and comprised film treatments, wrote for the stage, and eventually found a publisher to publish my novel.
These days I can look back and smile. Overall, it’s been a satisfying career even without the fame and fortune. I didn’t make a lot of money writing but, with investments, enough for a comfortable retirement. I never met the Beatles but did introduce myself to Raquel Welch. I married a beautiful woman and we just celebrated our thirty-second anniversary. We have three wonderful sons and own a lovely home on Cape Cod.
We don’t fly in private planes or even via first class but enjoy traveling the world. People don’t hound me for my autograph but every now and then someone will ask me to sign my book.
I didn’t reach six feet but don’t feel cramped in the back seat. Never learned how to fly but once free falled out of a plane. Haven’t won a Pulitzer yet but am still waiting for the call.
Satisfaction? That all depends on how much you accomplished in life. Was it enough?
I guess it’s true though … Sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
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Author and Playwright Michael Solomowitz’s debut novel, BEHIND THE FOURTH WALL, was published in January 2022 by Black Rose Writing.