When I was a young lad, I was a voracious comics reader, mostly of the Marvel variety. One of my favorite titles was What If?, a series that launched in 1977 and essentially explored alternate realities: What if Spider-man joined the Fantastic Four? What if the world knew Daredevil was blind? What if the Hulk wore polka dotted pants? Stuff like that.
I've always been fascinated by the little twists and turns that people take in their lives. Instead of making the decision to do one thing that led you to where you are today, what if you went in another direction entirely? I made such a decision in college when I decided to go into journalism after nearly flunking out of chemical engineering. It worked out fairly well.
But sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had the guts to do something entirely creative and explored something like comedy writing instead of pursuing an established career. I'm always interested in origin stories, not just those of superheroes but of folks in entertainment who start out doing one thing and end up taking a chance and succeeding in comedy or music.
Take, for example, Henry Rollins. He was a manager of an ice cream shop in DC when he got on stage with Black Flag and impressed them enough that he was offered the gig of lead singer. He jumped at it and has never looked back, becoming a punk rock legend and later an actor, talk show host, writer and spoken word artist (he also hosts a kickass radio show on KCRW every week). He explains how he made the decision that changed his life:
I don't regret any of the choices I've made. I've got a great life. But it's hard not to wonder what it would have taken for me to follow my dreams instead of what I knew was practical. It's a choice that everyone has to make in their lives. And once you make it, you've got to hope you made the right one.