Friday, April 04, 2003

Aging in the Creative World

I had a conversation with a young executive at the production company where I am currently working that got me thinking about popular culture, and what it means to be "current." I'm nearly 50 years old, which is a risky place to be in a business where the overwhelming perception is that youth = creativity. I don't believe that for a second. Knowing what is "of the moment" is simply a function of doing your homework like crazy and making certain that you know the tastes of the audience that you are programming for. Experience matters, particularly experience at the head of a production, so that you can afford to hire young, brilliant, undisciplined, wildly inexperienced talent to crank out fresh ideas all day long! Those "out of the box" hires are only feasible when there is a steady hand of enlightened experience at the head. So far, so good for me in this respect. I do my homework, and consistently find myself introducing new music, new websites, explaining video games, explaining what a BLOG is and how to make one, to people who are much younger (and who are being paid handsomely to be much hipper) than myself. The ironic thing is that I'm able to be very current because of the career choices that I have made....gradually stepping out of 24-7 executive positions, and seeking a balance in my life. I feel that I've found a comfortable equilibrium between challenging, meaningful work, family involvement, and contemplative, spiritual time for myself. And you know what? That balance means I have the time to know what's going on. To have heard the latest music. To have dug deep enough into that I know why kids are spending more time there than they are in front of the television. I made a choice, several years ago, to step off of the executive treadmill. I am earning less than I used to, although I've certainly maintained a comfortable lifestyle. My quality of life is infinitely better, and I'm much better equipped to do my job. Ironic, or what? Shhhhhhh! It's a secret.

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