We are only a couple of months away from having to relocate up to Vancouver, Canada for a few months to start shooting the new show I am on-BEYOND.
What a mixed bag of emotions. Satisfied - as any actor would be working as a series regular on a new show for a major network. (ABC Family, soon to be renamed Freeform) It’s always a bonus knowing that at least for the run of the show there is steady employment, good money, new adventures, new friendships, new environment, new city, new home, new neighbors, new shops, new dentist, new doctor, new, new, new, new.
That’s a lot of new all at once. The timing could certainly be better. My son is finishing up his last year of High school and his last year of Varsity basketball. I love watching him play. It’s actually a highlight of my week. I truly look forward to seeing him play. I’ll miss the last part of the season, which bums me out enormously. The Holidays are upon us-we all know how nutty that can get. My wife’s Parents are visiting the second week of December, as they end a one-month trip to New Zealand by way of several other stops around the globe. I always enjoy their visits.
I’ve lived in Southern California for over 33 years and I absolutely love it. It suits my life style. I surf here, I sail here, I ride my Harley here, I ride my mountain bike here, I hang at the beach here, My kids were born here, I’ve lived in several different houses here, the sun lives here, year around, which is why I am able to do all of these things pretty much any day of the week. Not so in Vancouver. At least not comfortably.
I’m tracking the weather in Vancouver daily-rain, rain, rain, more rain, less rain and cold, lots of cold. Ugh. I’m already missing home and I haven’t even left yet.
After the exhilaration and attendant victory dance I performed in our living room upon hearing from my agents and manager that our show was indeed picked up to series, it hit me that I don’t get to stay home and work. I must relocate 6-10 months out of the year if the show is a success. Which I hope it is.
There are hundreds reasons to celebrate this victory and yet I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. Life as I have, we have, known it for many years as a family, is coming to a close.
Here are the facts: I’m going off to Canada to work and live for several months out of the year. My son will be going off to College this year. My oldest daughter is engaged to be married and will be entirely on her own with her husband. My middle one, Hunter has a successful modeling career that places her in various states and cities around the country on a weekly basis.
The home we have lived in for the past 10 years will be much quieter and it saddens me. I’m a homebody. I’ve been privileged to travel the world and have seen and experienced countless amazing places. But my favorite place to be is and always has been my home. My home with my kids and my wife just sitting by a fire chatting. Yes it does get cold enough to warrant a fire in SoCal. Even if it means cheating a bit by turning on the air conditioner.
The prospect of starting anew in Vancouver is exciting for certain, but equally emotional is the thought of leaving what has become my comfort zone. I know I need the change. My wife and I were recently camping together and talking about the idea of making some big changes. Not the least of which is starting a family of our own. She is 22 years my junior and frankly after having been an amazing step mother to my three children, she is a spectacular nanny to our Veterinarians’ two young boys. She is Mary Poppins and Snow White rolled into one with a touch of Cinderella. It’s true. Ask anyone who knows her and they will tell you. I married a Disney character. Oh she has her faults, but they pale in comparison to her gazzilion other great qualities.
Oh yeah, that’s the other new thang going on this spring. Not an oversight. Just too big a topic to address lightly. Another time, soon. Suffice it to say I am thrilled at the prospect of becoming a father again. I don’t play golf, I don’t fish or do any of the other things guys my age do when they are looking to retire. I don’t plan on retiring for some time. I love my profession. Besides I have lived a semi retired life style for the past 33 years. I have had plenty of free time to play. Perhaps too much.
Looking back, my greatest joys, memories, fun and rewards have been related to being a father and a husband. Yes, I want to do that again. My friends say I’m certifiably crazy for wanting to go another round with starting a family again. I’m not crazy, I’m clear on what drives me and brings me a sense of purpose.
Fact is, my wife Ilka and I are meant to be parents. She, at 33 years of age- I met her when I was 42 and she was 20, take it easy fellas. Yes she is hot with a smoking figure and an unusually sexy German accent-the stereotype regarding German accents is all wrong when it comes to her voice and delivery. Think Heidi Klum voice. Kinda cute, right? Fact is, she has a heart of gold. If she were a Disney character she'd be Marry Poppins.
She, at 33 years of age now was at 20
far beyond her years in maturity. She grew up in her early years in East Berlin while the wall was still up and although the wall came down when she was 7 or 8 the wall continues to exist to some degree in the philosophy, mindset and lifestyle of her parent’s grandparents and peers for quite some time. She was not spoiled. We all know the results of the failed experiment of socialism.
This is a girl who at the age of 8 was taking subways and buses several miles to school both ways in the snow. She can really make that proverbial statement and mean it. She has always had a way with animals, children and senior citizens. Interacting with them is not a chore it comes natural to her. Kids love her, animals surround her and older folks light up when they meet her. For those reasons she is the front man for the both of us.
Animals are suspicious of me, children are suspicious of me and older folks are suspicious of me. So we always send Ilka first to break the ice and get everyone comfortable to receive me. I’m actually a very nice guy and I love animals, kids and senior citizens but at 6’3” and whole lot of bulk I suppose I can be a bit intimidating upon first glance. I certainly don’t have a problem taking my place in the world. I walk with purpose, move with purpose and I am unusually quick for a man my size. My voice is big and carries and deep and I can conjure up a stink eye that would stop a lion in its stride. Just ask any one of my kids. They call it “The Look”.
“The Look” although intimidating comes with a whole lot of other looks that demonstrate love, compassion, joy, laughter, hard won wisdom, security, comfort, provision, guidance, etc. etc. I am not a lot of things but I know I am a good father. I know, because I genuinely get a kick out of parenting and I read about it, talk about it and think about how to do it better continually. I am very intentional about fatherhood and being a husband. My kids have assured me I’ve done a fine job of raising them as the father figure in the home.
So big changes are here. Unannounced but inevitable. Needed but making us all feel a little vulnerable and uneasy. When I take it all in at once I am paralyzed with uncertainty and doubt bordering on cynicism.
A thousand details have to be attended to make sure the whole thing goes off without a hitch. I woke up the other night in a panic and had to immediately write out a game plan. I exhausted an entire legal pad with just the move alone, let alone getting my son settled into the college of his choice. Which as many of you parents know is no small task.
There is a popular story about a scientist placing a live frog in a glass container filled with a shallow depth of water so as to allow the frog to jump out, if it chooses to. The scientist then places a Bunsen burner underneath it. Slowly and in very small increments the scientist turns up the heat. The change in temperature is so gradual it went undetected by the frog. Therefor it did not bother to jump out of the glass container. The frog became conditioned to its environment and was subsequently cooked to death!
How many of us are being cooked to death by an environment we call our lifestyle? Our home, our marriage, our job? It’s comfortable? Yes, knowable? Yes, familiar? yes, secure? Yes. Or is it?
Here is the deal. Human beings are teleological by nature. We are striving machines if you will. We need change, we thrive on change, and we grow by change. Funny thing is, we spend most of our waking hours figuring out how to make things remain the same and call it security, comfort. That philosophy is antithetical to life! Life needs challenge. We are either growing or dying, just like everything else on this big rock we call home. There is no neutral.
Yet we often strive to gain neutrality in our lives. Retirement, that coveted place we talk about most of our working lives, can become a state of neutral. We find a home on a golf course, we buy the most luxurious lazy boy chair we can, we stock the fridge of everything we denied ourselves in our youth, buy the biggest screen TV with the remote that controls everything in the house. We purchase expensive house slippers which we never seem to take off, because danmit they are comfy. Place our array of medications on the table next to us and viola! We are set to die! Slowly, but comfortably, mind you.
I’m not ready to die! Bring it on change! I welcome you with open arms. I want to live and live large. I have become quite adept at tackling you to the ground and dealing with your every move. I laugh at you! I compel you to take your best shot! With every blow you only make me a more ferocious opponent with greater resolve and greater resources to deal with you. Good-bye old life, Hello new life. New chapters of living, new, new, new a whole lot of new and loving it. Everyone in my family is experiencing a whole lot of new right now, which means a whole lot of life. I am blessed and grateful for the changes.