I just finished watching Seinfeld from start to finish, and it was quite the experience. I used to watch Seinfeld reruns growing up every single night so I was ecstatic when Netflix announced they were going to put my favorite series on their platform in October 2021. Rewatching all 180 episodes and 9 seasons as a thirty year old was refreshing. I could relate so much with Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer, all playing thirty-something year olds in the show, but all trying to make it in an adult world while keeping their inner child fresh and strong.
Once I finished, I felt myself wanting more. So I decided to watch the documentary Jerry Seinfeld: Comedian on Netflix. And I was blown away when I learned that Jerry Seinfeld turned down millions of dollars to do a 10th season of Seinfeld. And instead of retiring to a mansion on a private island, Jerry returned to his roots of his success: being a comedian.
Jerry Seinfeld: Comedian is a documentary that shows Jerry’s struggles returning to his former life of performing at clubs in New York City as a now very well known celebrity. It also follows Orny Adams who is trying to make it as a comedian under the shadow of successful Jerry Seinfeld.
It was interesting seeing both sides of the spectrum between Jerry and Orny. Overall, both experienced failure and struggle. However, one was rich and famous, and the other was a broke twenty-nine year old. I really connected with Orny Adams in this documentary as I am also a broke thirty year old trying to follow in the footsteps of other successful writers. And I could relate to Orny’s struggles when he felt like giving up on his dream.
But instead of giving up, Orny seeked out Jerry for advice, asking him, “Did you ever stop and compare your life and go, ‘Okay, I’m 29. My friends are all married, they’re all having kids, they all have houses, they have some sort of sense of normality.”
I could totally relate to Orny’s question to Jerry. When I began writing Junkland in 2016 as a twenty-five year old, I struggled with this sense of normality. I wondered why I had to be different. Why I had to answer this calling to write. This curse that had me waking up super early before work to get a writing session in. That had me spending my free time learning how to market and book format when I could have been relaxing or hanging out with friends. And this struggle with “normality” has only grown now that I’m thirty. Every year I see more and more of my friends getting married. More and more of them buying houses. More and more having kids. And I look at what I have and judge myself hard, just as Orny judged himself.
But Jerry Seinfeld gave Orny some pretty good advice by telling him a story.
Jerry replied to Orny saying, “Let me tell you a story. This is my favorite story about show business. Glenn Miller’s orchestra, they were doing some gigs somewhere. They can’t land where they’re supposed to land because it’s winter, snowy night. So they had to land in this field and walk to the gig. And they’re dressed in their suits. They’re ready to play. They’re carrying their instruments. So they’re walking through the snow, and it’s wet and it’s slushy. And in the distance they see this little house. And there’s lights on inside and this billow of smoke coming out of the chimney. They go up to the house, and they look in the window, and in the window, they see this family. There’s a guy and his wife, and she’s beautiful. And there’s two kids. And they’re all sitting around the table. And they’re smiling, they’re laughing, and they’re eating. And there’s a fire in the fireplace. And these guys are standing there in their suits, and they’re wet and they’re shivering, they’re holding their instruments. And they’re watching this incredible Norman Rockwell scene. This one guy turns to the other guy and goes, ‘How do people live like that?’ That’s what it’s about.”
You can watch Jerry’s advice to Orny here:
Listening to Jerry’s story was like listening to a passage from the holy gospel of following your dreams. I came to Spain to teach English and pursue writing. Even though it has been nothing but positive experiences, it has been nothing far from difficult living in a foreign country as a writer. I constantly find myself wondering about what life would have been like if I had followed the path my engineering degree laid out for me. If I had stayed in my corporate job. Saved up a lot of money. Had a stable life. Maybe even had a family growing in a house I could afford.
But whenever I truly try to picture myself in any of those situations in this exact moment, I realize it’s not what I want. So why am I worrying so much about it and comparing myself to other people’s lives?
When Orny complains to Jerry about being twenty-nine, sacrificing his life and getting older, Jerry asks Orny, “Do you have something else you would rather have been doing?”
Orny replies by saying, “Not necessarily.”
Jerry was trying to make Orny realize that it makes no sense to worry about these things if what we’ve been doing has been exactly what we want to have been doing all this time. I personally don’t regret the decision and sacrifices I’ve made to pursue writing.
And like Orny, I am no where near successful yet. I still have a long way to go. And it’s difficult seeing other writing friends rise up beyond my level while I’m still waiting for my turn to get to that next step. But it’s exactly like Jerry Seinfeld’s story said, I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else except for writing. And I’m excited to see where these years of writing take me next.