Actor Bryan Cranston was recently interviewed and he talked about the absolute love and appreciation that he has for the craft of acting. He talked about his method of wading through scripts, viewing each project in its totality – he needed to view the script, the co-workers, the director, and vision before signing off on a project.
Bryan went on to talk about his absolute love and devotion to his craft. He talked about the long hours and physical and emotional toll and finished his commentary with the following, “The moment you complain about your dream job, the moment you regret or curse the long hours, the moment you resent the responsibility or complain about the job, is the moment the flame starts to flicker and it signals the beginning of the end. It is time to move on.”
That is very sage advice for all of us.
Let’s see if that applies to the profession of politics.
We all start in our journey to the altar of politics with eyes wide open and heart a flutter. Most of us started as observers and idolized those who held exalted political office – the mayor, the party chair, the county executive, the assembly person, the state senator, the congress-member, U.S. senator or governor. We have all been in that room watching from a far and fantasizing about the day that the elected official was you.
I remember in the 1990s as a local elected official, I went to Libretti’s, an old school restaurant in the Township of Orange. As I walked to my table I came upon the then-legendary County Chair, John Renna. John was impeccably dressed and holding court with some elected officials. I was literally star struck as I walked by and remember trying to summon up the words to say hello, which I finally did.
I also remember my first-time stepping foot on the Assembly floor in 1986 as a staffer. I was in absolute awe of the magnitude of that room and looked at the legislators as if they were heroes from a Marvel comic book (to the kids reading this: in 1986 the only way you saw a superhero was in a book). I took it all in and dreamed hard about seeing my name on that voting board and engraved on a desk.
I swore then to never lose that “holy hell” feeling if ever elected. I promised myself to hold on to the purity and beauty of being a state legislator. I said I would bottle it up and open it every day and I like to think I brought that raw appreciation and emotion to the job.
Looking back at my 7 years as a local elected official and 22 years as a legislator, I adored each minute and loved every aspect of the job. A few short years after seeing John Renna in that restaurant, I found myself as the County Chair. It was hard to imagine then and seems worlds away now. But these things actually happen.
To the elected officials and state legislators of today – do not complain about the drive to Trenton, the length (or lack thereof) of committee hearings, or the job of raising money. This is a ride of a lifetime, there are only 120 of you in a state with 9 million people. Trust me when I tell you there are many others who would kill to be in your shoes.
Otherwise as Bryan Cranston says…It is time to move on.