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Why We Become

April 7, 2015

I’ve always been fascinated by how people choose their professions. Why does one person decide to write books while another becomes an accountant? How is it that one man becomes infatuated with words and his neighbor with numbers? What moves one woman to study law and another to sing opera? What makes one person’s hands itch to hold a hammer, and another’s to hold a stethoscope?

How early in life do we find ourselves leaning in the direction that will eventually point us to our livelihood and define a big part of our existence?

Why do I process visual information so much more easily than that received verbally (or in my case, often not received, as my wife and kids will attest)?

This started for me at a very young age. I was seven when what my eyes saw overwhelmed my other senses for the first time, at least for the first time I can recall. It was a moment I still remember vividly, partly because of the embarrassment it caused me, but mostly because it was such a magical discovery.

Does everyone have a moment like that, when some little thing happens that seems unimportant at the time, but which, in retrospect, was a life-defining event?

People often ask me why I became a cartoonist. The only answer I can give that makes any sense is that I didn’t choose it; it chose me. At some point in my life I found that I couldn’t not draw cartoons. The first step on the road that led me, years later, to my career, began one fateful afternoon in a first grade classroom.

Wednesday’s story is about what happened that day.