A Purposeful Post

The young me and the noisiest typewriter on earth. Lordy, did I love it.
The young me and the noisiest typewriter on earth. Lordy, did I love that thing.

A couple weeks back, my blog pal, Harula, posted a writing exercise. The theme was “Purpose” and the idea was to complete the following four sentences with whatever spontaneous thoughts sprung to mind.

* When I was a child, I believed I was here to…

* As a teenager, I believed I was here to…

* As an adult, I believe I am here to…

* The most important thing life has taught me about why I’m here is…

I decided to give it a go. The answer to the first two prompts are below. I’ll post the next two soon:


When I was a child, I believed I was here to…

…become a “dinosaur expert.” I was fascinated by Stegosaurus and was rooting for the  poor devil in his Fantasia fight with Tyrannosaurs Rex. I loved Stegosaurus so much that at times I wanted to be a Stegosaurus. Is that odd?

I also was fascinated by the sheer size of Brontosaurus. He was as long as three city buses laid end to end! Dang! Who wouldn’t want to be a dinosaur expert?

Many years later that I learned that Stegosaurus was extinct by the time T-Rex appeared on the scene, making Fantasia scientifically inaccurate — despite what that egghead Deems Taylor would have you believe. Then I learned that Brontosauruses never existed at all. So The Flintstones? Lies. All lies.

I am still fascinated by dinosaurs today but now possess the self-awareness to understand that I am way too impatient to be a paleontologist.

By the way, my favorite dinosaur has since changed. I am now a fan of Triceratops. Especially the adorable and slightly derpy looking stuffed triceratops who sits on my son’s bed. This fellow has gone by many names over the years. When Alex was three, he called him Oscar Lotion. I have no idea why. Later the name changed to Susie, then Harold Lloyd, and now, simply Triceratops. I call him Oscar Lotion Susie Harold Lloyd Triceratops and pretend he is a prehistoric accountant.

No, Mr. Allegra. I'm afraid stuffed animal purchases are not deductible.
“Sorry, Mr. Allegra. I’m afraid stuffed animal purchases are not tax deductible.”

As a teenager, I believed I was here to…

…be an actor. At an early age I noticed that I had a sort of fearlessness in front of crowds and could quickly remember lines. I didn’t do much acting growing up, but what I did was intoxicating. My big high school break was when I played the voice of Audrey Two in our school’s presentation of Little Shop of Horrors. I wanted to be the sadistic dentist, Orin, but I was the only one in the school who could pull off that deep, Ron Taylor voice. In other words, my high school had way too many white people.

I was this guy.
I was this guy. It was awesome.

In college I lied my way into acting classes (Ha! Acting!). I soon recognized that I liked acting students much, much more than graphic design students. This was kind of a problem because graphic design was my major. Horrified by the idea of actually using this graphic design degree, I contemplated going to acting school. I auditioned for and got accepted into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York before deciding that I have already accrued enough debt, thank you. Besides, I knew that deep down, acting was too uncertain and unstable a career for my personality.

This turned out to be a wise decision, for in tandem with my passion for acting, I had developed a passion for writing. A person can write and hold a steady day job. Four short years after I graduated from college, my day job switched from graphic design to writing. I got my start as a newspaper man and found the experience to be amazing. I wrote during the day for a salary and then wrote at night and on the weekends to draw a supplementary income. In other words, I became a very happy person.


And there you have it! Part two is coming soon.

When you were a kid what did you believe you were meant to do? Tell me in the comments below! C’mon, be a sport!

108 Replies to “A Purposeful Post”

  1. You have to be somewhat of an actor to be a writer, correct? I believe you chose well. What a peppy kid you must have been. I’m not surprised about the dinosaur interest. 🙂

    When I was a kid I thought I was meant to be a singer. A famous singer. People would come from all over the world to hear me in person (didn’t think about recordings then). Of course, being such a renowned artiste meant I would be in the movies. Such a glamorous life. The trouble, I found, lay in what I’d be expected to do in the movies. I’d have to kiss someone. Nah. This life was not for me. 😀 😀

  2. Mine was be a writer, be a 911 operator, be a writer, and then … just be. Nevermind the writing. But when I was a kid and a young adult, my only thoughts were writing. I still have 50-odd spiral bound notebooks in a trunk full of the (unintentionally) silliest stories ever written.

      1. Nah, I never made it. My writing is very amateur. I’m a hobby writer. I write for myself, when I feel up to it. Which hasn’t happened in at as-many-years-as-my-oldest-child.

  3. “Fearlessness in front of crowds”—Oh, I envy you for that one!

    I thought I was meant to be a librarian, and then a veterinarian. I think my dislike of snakes and other furless creatures turned me away from the latter.

      1. Ha…Ha…Where I live, there is a CATS ONLY (your favorite pets…I mean pest) clinic.

      1. That. Is. Awesome.

        With my budget and know-how, I’d have to shove my dresser in front of the bathroom and call it a day, but I’m sure Aslan wouldn’t mind.

  4. This is a fascinating set of questions, and no surprise, your answers are interesting, too! Child me thought I was here to be an author. Teenage me thought I was here to be TV reporter. Youngish adult me was casting about for my true calling when I heard someone say, “What did you do with your free time as a child? That is your passion. Follow it.”

  5. Awesome post! That’s a cool writing prompt – As a kid, I believe I am here to a) be awesome, b) annoy adults, c) play with my dad’s fart app on his work phone that is “only for serious, work purposes” 😛 , d) make witty remarks, and e (I stopped here because my name starts with an “E”) . 😀

  6. When I was a young I thought I wanted to be a dancer in NYC. I started dancing when I was in the 3rd grade all the way through high school. But then I went to a dancing camp one summer and got a real dose of what that life would truly look like and knew it was not for me.
    I majored in Psychology in college and even though I didn’t finish my degree, what I learned has served me well. I use a lot of my training when dealing with people.
    Through it all, I have written. I always had a journal/diary. I wrote short stories and poetry in high school and I have taken English and Creative writing classes as an adult.
    But NOW! I am going to school for fun and taking Acting/Theater classes and I am having a blast! My hubby keeps saying he is waiting for me to get famous so he can retire! 😀

  7. When I was a kid I wanted to be a vet…until I discovered that a vet had to operate on animals and put them to sleep. I was devastated. When I was a teenager I wanted to be an artist. I loved to draw and doodle but I don’t do that much anymore. I wish I could get those talents back to illustrate the kid’s book series I’m working on!! I need to channel my inner, pimply teen. 🙂

  8. OK, first—-I love that you actually have a photo of you at a typewriter 😀

    I’d have to say the first thing I wanted to be, having gone to Catholic grammar school (fantastic one in the Bronx), I wanted to be a nun 🙂 That’s the ONLY time in my life I would’ve considered that an option lol I can remember wanting to be Miss America (and I won’t “soapbox” my longtime adult abhorrence of these venues here!). The “dream/aspiration” version of that these days is to be a “Princess.”

    I didn’t have much direction as a teenager or young adult, but having always been “the artist,” I was more drawn to that than anything else (writing was a “backburner” activity), and was (and am) always asked to do anything that involves art. I’ve learned how to say “NO!” a lot more often, including to myself lol I never was successful at aspiring toward a “career” ’cause I wasn’t really career-minded (I was more on the wife/mom track) and had WAY too many interests to focus on one. Any work I did wasn’t a “career,” but a “job.”

    Not ’til I was in my mid-thirties and had become “officially” disabled, no longer able to hold down a job, had I (with encouragement from a friend) looked toward writing again. My life was still busy, but much more flexible. I allowed myself to finally “go there” and discovered, quite quickly, that writing is—without question—my true passion in life 🙂

    So there you have that, Mike. I’m REALLY looking forward to hearing the rest of your answers! And, btw, Oscar Lotion Susie Harold Lloyd Triceratops sounds like a pretty savvy accountant. Got his/her number? 😉

      1. Hmmm…funny. I never considered that part of me inspirational at all! lol I guess we can’t always see ourselves clearly in ways like that? Perhaps it’s a “it’s never too late to find your passion” kind of inspiration? That’s all I can think of lol And, yes, I’m illustrating my own work and am less desirous to do so as time goes on, but—that aspect of picture books won’t leave me alone! *sigh*

        I’m really enjoying reading about everyone’s little pieces of personal history in these posts, too 🙂 You think of great topics, Mike!

      2. I love these comments, too.

        But I can’t take credit for this topic (as much as I’d love to). That was Harula’s doing. Do check out her blog if you don’t yet know it.

      3. lol…thanks for the reminder! I got so caught up in the answers (and of course, I lack a lot of brain power!) I forgot your mention of that!

  9. What a charming photo of you as a child!! When I was little I wanted to be a vet or a teacher (I’m now a teacher with a dog so it all worked out minus the animal operations!).

  10. Great exercise, I love xour answers. What a close call that you were almost an actor. You could still film yourself and put it on here. Writing suits you.

  11. I love that you have a picture of young you at the typewriter! I guess you were just meant to be a writer! These are also great writing prompts! Thanks for sharing your career thoughts. 🙂

    As a child, I loved to doodle and was pretty good at copying the comics from the newspaper and any other cartoon characters I liked. Being an artist, at that young age, seemed like the perfect career and would be a great skill, so I could illustrate my own books, since I also liked to make up stories.

    By the time I reached the end of sixth grade, I started looking towards my grown-up career and settled on Speech Therapy. My brother had needed speech therapy when he was little and I like the idea of working with kids on a one-to-one basis. At that age, I knew how hard it was to contain a whole class, but I did want to teach/work with kids. I did attain my Bachelor’s degree majoring in Speech, Language and Audiology, but once I got home and tried to get a job, I found that a Bachelor’s degree wasn’t enough – and by then I was married and didn’t want to leave town again to get my Master’s. Besides, having the extra degree meant I’d have far too much of an administrational position and wouldn’t be working with kids except to test them – not nearly as much fun!

  12. Love your post, Mike. Can’twait for Part 2!

    In third grade, I had a premonition I’d make animated films. We called ’em cartoons back then. But I was pretty naive — I thought I’d paint a bunch of pictures, like a giant flip book, and stand in front of the TV camera and flip through them. As Bugs Bunny would say, “What a maroon!”

  13. …be a bug expert. I lived, breathed and studied all things insect-related. Every trip to the library resulted in a book with creepy-crawlers, and I even had a t-shirt with button-on bugs. It’s funny, because I now HATE insects and bugs and anything small that crawls. I guess God had something else in store for me. 🙂

  14. When I was a kid I wanted, and I quote, to be eccentric. When I was a teenager I wanted to stay home and color. So technically I’ve reached my goals in life. My parents are so proud.

  15. For the life of me, I can’t recall wanting to “be” anything until I was in college. I was too busy “being.” In college, I wanted to “be” a dancer. Between that and wanting to “be” a writer, I settled for engineering. Fast forward 10 years, and I had left IBM and engineering for writing. There’s a rondelle there. Hmmm. My life has a literary arc.

  16. I love your answers to these questions. It’s rather endearing that you wanted to be a dinosaur expert! I may be mistaken, but is that Trixie from Toy Story 3?

    I changed professions like a girl changes clothes. I wanted to be a painter, then a writer, then a pediatrician, then an archaeologist, then a detective, then a graphic designer, then an architect. Ultimately I became a translator/writer/editor; even as an adult I couldn’t settle on just one thing!

    1. Oscar Lotion Susie Harold Lloyd Triceratops the Accountant is not Trixie, but she may be a distant relation. I’ll ask him.

      I love how you kept your mind open regarding your career. A Renaissance Woman such as yourself should handle life choices in no other way.

  17. Hmm… Perhaps acting can be your retirement gig. Ya nevah know! I had always wanted to be a writer. But really now I’m thinking I might’ve been put here to be a court stenographer — I mean I have always been fast with my fingers — I was a really fast cashier at Waldbaum’s Supermarket in 1983, and I became a really really fast typist — before autocorrect I typed 87 wpm with 1 error — ha!

  18. A ballerina of course. Had the lessons, kept the tutu, and the photos prove the adorableness of dancing on stage. I quit when my teacher moved on to ice skating. That didn’t last either. I do still enjoy cocoa, which is part of rinkside life. My fifth grade teacher wrote across a poem “you should be a writer.” That stuck as well as my thoughts of being a teacher or librarian according to my high school yearbook (which I burned–now there’s a post in the making).

  19. Loved reading this post and adore Oscar Lotion – who wouldn’t want to hang out with a triceratops like that???!!! I will tell you the first thing I believed I was meant to be when I was little, and that is a steam roller driver. Yes. I wanted to steer one of those big, heavy-rollered machines along hot asphalt, smoothing new roads. And since I also wanted to be a mom, I had a plan. I would drive my steam roller and keep my baby on the seat next to me. I am sure Child Protective Services would have understood completely 🙂

  20. As a kid I loved dinosaurs!!! But I didn’t want to be a paleontologist, I wanted to be a cop! I was required to be home and in pajamas by 5 o’clock and when I wasn’t fighting with my sisters, I was watching TV. Adam 12 was one of my favorites and I was going to be just like them…keeping the streets safe and getting the bad guys off the street.

    By my early teens I had fallen in love with Modern Dance and wanted to be a dancer. I loved choreography and had a blast creating a dance to Mancini’s Pink Panther theme. Ten years after doing this I ran into a girl I had gone to school with and she just gushed about what a great dancer I was, she assumed I was still dancing. The compliment was awesome but I’d given up dancing long ago. I think my inspiration came mostly because I like the dance teacher and she encouraged me…plus, I really wanted to do gymnastics and though I rocked on uneven bars, I just was not flexible enough to do all around gymnastics…so dance was my fall back activity.

    Before my daughter was born, I wanted to be a lineman for the telephone company. I had always had a fascination with phones and as a kid, I used to take them apart, change cords, disconnect ringers, etc. I wasn’t afraid of heights either…walked along the top of fences, jumped off my roof and even climbed the telephone pole that was in the corner of my yard. My mother was a telephone operator and got me a job at the telephone company as an operator. It was going to be a step into the company…toward my goal…and then I opened some of the books that I would have to study and all the electrical symbols and formulas looked like Greek to me…That was the end of my dream to be a lineman.

    I NEVER dreamed of being a teacher…but things change after children…all of those other things seemed unimportant.

    1. Oh, that is a great story, Mrs. P! I, too, loved cop shows as a kid (Dragnet, especially) but they made me want to act more than be a cop. Or, rather, they made me want to talk as fast as Jack Webb. Nobody could deliver a self-righteous monologue as fast as good ol’ Sgt. Friday.

      And now I have Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” stuck in my head.

  21. Really? “The Flintstones” were all lies?! I’m devastated. My whole childhood was a sham.
    The only thing I can remember wanting to be was a photographer (did that), a film maker (TV Producer) and a Dancer. Isadora Duncan was my hero and I wanted to live her life. Alas, I have no co-ordination so it is a good thing I was good at photography and TV Producing.

      1. Probably nothing you have ever seen. I was the Station Producer at CTS. A Canadian station that played a lot of religious programming and a lot of family friendly strip programming.

      2. That’s when you get a series like…Seinfield, Happy Days, Dr. Quinn, How I met your Mother, etc. that start selling the old seasons to stations that aren’t the original Network. They are usually played over and over on a daily basis as opposed to a weekly basis.

    1. I loved Isadora Duncan too…and Martha Graham. I wonder if there was a Modern Dance revival when we grew up?

      1. Maybe, but I think the attraction for Isadora for me was how comfortable and free she always seemed in her own skin. I suspect their are a lot of people who love to move to the music with wild abandon… in the privacy of their own home.

  22. When I was a young child, I thought I was born little so grown-ups (who were born big) could pick on me. My dad always told me I was born to be a pediatrician. I’m still trying to figure it out! xoxoM

  23. Your post has purpose. It is to help me on my way to find purpose! When I was a kid, I believed I was here to teach my classroom of stuffed animals all about reading, writing and arithmetic. Ok, maybe not so much the arithmetic. Or to color the world, because I loved coloring and still do! Teenager, I thought I was here to…HAVE FUN! Not much insight there!
    Looking forward to your next post!

  24. I love that picture of you at the typewriter so so much I can’t tell you! Those are some tough questions to answer, I look forward to your further responses. In my youth I believed I was here to be a dancer. Sigh.

  25. Wowza, those are some serious prompts! I, like everybody else, love the typewriting pic. So often I find myself missing my typewriter from back in the day. It was such an efficient way of writing and you didn’t have to stare at a damn screen all the time. Personally, I love the clickety-clack…makes me feel like I’m doing something.

    Jealous of your “Little Shop of Horrors” part. That’s too awesome!

  26. I love Harula’s writing exercise, and am going to steal it for my writing class – THANKS Harula and Mike.
    I dislike being so honest in front of strangers, but that’s what we writers do. When I was a child I believed I was here to save the world. I also believed I was an alien, so the two beliefs made sense. Sometimes, they still do.
    As far as your purpose(s), all I can say is that when you, at an early age, “noticed that I had a sort of fearlessness in front of crowds,” you were right on (write on?). That’s what writing is all about – a fearlessness in front of crowds. How wonderful to keep your purpose throughout childhood, teenagedom, and now adulthood.

    1. I am the source of more inspiration for your writing class? Awesome! (I’ll be getting a cut of your earnings, yes?)

      While many writers are fearless in presenting their written words to the public, I would argue that they are far less confident in presenting themselves. I never cease to be amazed by just how many fine writers use their valuable public speaking time to hide in the dark and parrot what is written on a PowerPoint screen.

  27. “Oscar Lotion Susie Harold Lloyd Triceratops and pretend he is a prehistoric accountant.” Have you seen the Gene Wilder Young Frankenstein? This line had me full on laughing on chuckle-snark-derivatives like Igor.

    Young me wanted to be an animal researcher. I studied squirrels in an attempt to figure their language through charts of body motions and sounds. I still stare at them a lot, but I have boiled down their language to the following: “Give me that nut,” “Ooh, a nut!” “Let’s make squirrel babies,” and “I’m faster than that car – I’m Super Squirrel!”

    1. OK, Lauri, you just made me laugh 😀 TWO things came to mind just now: Ulysses from Flora & Ulysses and the movie “Up!” Remember the dogs with “Squirrel!” ? LOL

      1. Yeah Donna, I think Kate D must have been a squirrel lover too! That dog voice translator collar is exactly what I wanted to invent for the squirrels.

    2. So THAT explains why you speak of squirrels so often! I, too, am a fan of those fuzzy buggers. Once I chased a feral cat off of my lawn and, I swear, a dozen of them cheered me on from the treetops. It was awesome. I felt like a celebrity.

  28. I thought I was supposed to be a vet. My experience with high school science classes scared me away from that, and part of me regrets that… Imagine, cute furries all day everyday!

  29. That’s the cutest photo of littleMikeA, and that Triceratops is the best (loving the caption too…). I auditioned for drama school too actually, was convinced I was going to be an actor, but ended up reading Drama at University instead…after which it all felt too frivolous – there were more important things to be done:-) Oh, and I too (so many of us!) wanted to be a vet when I was a kid:-) Looking forward to reading part 2 Mike, and these comments were so fun to read! I feel very honored that you used my prompt! Hugs, Harula xxx

  30. This is a good and fun read. Thank you. And, I invite you again to go on over the http://toullasstory.wordpress.com/ for the latest installation of the fiction-in-progress Toulla Laid Down Her Gun. The process of writing this magical fiction is very organic since as the author, I’m also being carried along by the story as it unfolds each week. Please join in. See if it grabs you from the first few lines.

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