I’ve been a very conflicted soul over these last few days. My friend Will eagerly told me about an opening for a music teacher at his high school, which is a special charter school entirely devoted to teaching students the art of film making. Unlike traditional music classes focused on the performing arts, I’d teach kids how to record music, write and mix film scores, and do other awesome stuff. Basically I’d be able to teach whatever I want on the subject of music and film making over five periods. I had an excellent interview with the principal, and he told me that the job is mine if I’m interested. The biggest con is that the school is about an hour’s commute from where I live, and the salary would be about five grand less than what I’m making now.
But there’s all sorts of pros. One, teachers at this school only have to work one-hundred-eighty days per year, leaving almost three months of paid summer vacation, plus long breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring break, and all sorts of holidays. In addition, teachers get eight paid vacation days. That adds up to a lot of time in which I could be pursuing my dreams, writing musicals, and whatnot. Other benefits are hanging out with film making buddies, having access to the school’s high end audio/video equipment and facilities (the school is in a former Channel 2 News building, including large sound stages with green screens), the free film making labor of eager high school students, a much more fun atmosphere than the corporate environment (I’ve already taught high school for two years, and it was usually a blast), and the fulfillment of making a difference in the lives of kids. About half of the students there are at “high risk”, so it would be a great opportunity to help turn kids’ lives around and feel good about myself instead of hating my job like most people.
The problem is, (1) the manager at my current company has already talked about giving me a significant raise, and if I were to announce that I’m leaving, I’d almost surely be offered one, thus making the cut in salary a little more painful. (2) My current job is exactly two miles away from my house, within a comfortable biking distance. Thus an hour’s commute will be painful indeed (except for the fact that I would carpool with my buddies, which would be fun and save about two-thirds of the cost).
(3) It just so happened within a week ago that another company discovered me on LinkedIn, invited me in for an interview, and just today, offered me almost exactly twice the salary that I would be making as a teacher. This company is about two-thirds of the commute to the high school. It’s a food storage company, and it’s doing really well. They said they would offer me stock options, and that there was a high likelihood that the company would be sold within five or so years, and every member of the company would walk away with lots of money. I would be a graphic designer, coder, and videographer, making websites, product videos, etc. (similar to what I’m doing now). They love the work I’ve done and have promised me lots of creative freedom, which I long for. It’s not a big company, just a small team of tight but very successful friends who are both making bank and making the world a better place through selling food storage supplies. While I’m definitely not as passionate about marketing as film making and music, there’s something exciting about sharpening my skills, pursuing real world excellence, and being on the front lines of a productive industry as opposed to taking a government salary for something that wouldn’t necessarily challenge me.
To make things more complicated, Teresa and I have been trying hard to get out of debt and be smart with our money by sticking to a fifteen year mortgage plan. My parents gave us some money which helped us by our house, but now they’re coming upon hard times, and we really want to pay it all back to them as soon as possible. Taking the high school job would make this very difficult.
Years ago, when I was first contemplating giving up my ways as a starving artist (while I was a family man), I came to the conclusion that one of the best ways to becoming truly awesome in this world was to first amass lots of wealth, like Bruce Wayne or Sir Percy Blackney, which would then empower me to devote my life to battling the forces of evil. Thus the higher-paying job is appealing. And yet, in the last year and a half since I entered the world of real jobs, I’ve accomplished so little, relatively to my former rates, as far as artistic works, for which I live, and I seriously fear that I might lose my passion and skill for the arts if I can’t devote more serious time to them while I’m still young. Thus the teaching job is appealing.
So that’s my dilemma. Do I take the road of passion, philanthropy, fun, and free time, accepting that having poor finances is just a fact of life, or do I put off my passions a little longer to secure a solid foundation for my family and career (doing something genuinely cool), liberating myself and others through good finances, though running the risk of becoming a servant to Lord Bore? What do I do? I didn’t seek either of these opportunities. They just came to me. And I’m pretty certain it’s a test from God.