Hopelessly In Love with Hope

Personal

We walked into a large room with a mahogany desk and two overstuffed chairs, and I straightened my neon green shorts before plunking into a chair while simutaneously sizing up my competition. My hair was in a side-pony tail and I wore a t-shirt with a koala emblazoned on the front, and the kid next to me wore khaki pants, a red polo shirt, and his hair parted down the middle. I’m not going to lie…I was feeling good. Invincible, maybe.

I was eight years old and my mom got wind of a Christian radio station auditioning kids for a voiceover on a Saturday morning show. Why she thought I’d be a good fit was beyond me, but I was just happy to be wearing a new pair of neon green shorts.

Khaki Pants and I were introduced to the radio producers, quickly handed scripts, and told we had a few minutes to review our lines before our audition. Then I froze. Read? READ?!? Who said anything about reading?! My palms became sweaty when I realized I didn’t have the nerve to tell the adults in the room I didn’t know how to read (and reading wouldn’t come for another two and a half years…cut me some slack, I was special!), but sighed relief when Khaki Pants was told to go first. I decided I’d simply memorize the lines from his recitation.

He stood from his chair and, honestly, delivered a Broadway performance…I pictured little Orphan Annie appearing out of thin air and them kick-ball-changing their way to stage left. Jazz hands and all. He delivery was so good his eyebrows moved in unison with his punctuation, like a young Groucho Marx. In a polo shirt. The producers loved him so much they brought out a device that simulated sound effects and asked him to read again as they added the ring of a doorbell and a dog barking in the distance.

Then the producers clapped and asked me to read. I could be wrong, but the koala on my t-shirt started crying.

I didn’t even make it through two sentences before I was stopped and thanked for my time. The producers walked Khaki Pants to his mom in the waiting room and I slithered into the hallway where I saw my mom waiting. She continued smiling as I recounted the horrid details and at the end–when I was on the verge of tears–she stopped me and said if I quit after every tough moment in my life I’d never be good at anything.

That’s my mom. She was–and still is–hopelessly in love with hope.

Years later when I started my business, I called my mom in tears after assisting another photographer shoot a wedding. She said I better not quit. The time had come for me to be good at something, even if I didn’t really know how things worked. I explained to her that I felt like I was doing things wrong, and she replied, Get better. I said photographers make fun of me for shooting in Aperture Priority (but have since gone fully Manual) and she replied, Who cares what they think?

This weekend I thought of my mom, the Patron Saint of Hopers, and thought I’d pass along her advice because, really, guys who wear khaki pants shouldn’t always walk away with the leading role.