Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself

I’ve always been a fan of Jed Clampett, otherwise known as Buddy Ebsen.
Years ago when everyone was young, we used the television set only a few times a week for shows that had become our family specialties. And every weekday night as dinner was served, the first question was “Do we have any shows tonight?”
The next question was “Which one?” And everybody’s favourite answer was “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
That’s how I first learned to know Jed Clampett, his mother-in-law, Granny, daughter, Elly May, and nephew, Jethro Bodine.
It was only natural that we should take the first opportunity to see the real-life Buddy Ebsen. And that’s exactly what we did when he starred in the music theatre of a nearby city.
We bought tickets we could ill afford and sat close to the front. We loved the way he danced and the kindness of his face. And ever since, singing, smiling, dancing Jed Clampett has been a special “friend” of our family. And for that matter, of the world.
For a person who started out to be a medical doctor, Buddy Ebsen has been a lifetime wonder in the field of entertainment.
At first, Ebsen danced with his sister, Vilma. Later, he danced with Shirley Temple, and his big role was to have been as the Tin Man with Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz.”
Tragically, Ebsen developed a very severe allergy to the aluminum silver powder used in the makeup. He was hospitalized and it was weeks before the young actor could report back to work. But by then, the role had been recast and shooting had gone on without him.
It was an incredible blow to an unfolding career, and Buddy Ebsen could have chosen to give up if he had wanted to. But if he had, Jed Clampett may never have been born–and Buddy Ebsen might never have become a household word.
It’s that ability to reinvent himself as required by the flow of life that has characterized Ebsen from the beginning. When one hit TV show ended, he managed to become the star of another.
He played Broadway, television, and movies. He acted with Audrey Hepburn and Sonja Heine. He could be a hillbilly or a senior detective. A dancer. A singer. A songwriter. A novelist. A playwright. And today at age 91, a painter.
A prolific painter of seascapes and landscapes, Ebsen is now painting a series based on the life and times of Jed Clampett. What’s more, he’s selling the autographed limited-series prints on the Internet for $100 each.
Life is full of exciting opportunities for all of us. But life also is full of disappointments. Opportunities missed by a hair. Dreams that never come true. Obstacles that force us to detour and reinvent ourselves, or crumble.
Those disappointments of life can come at any age. In fact, they seem to increase as we get older. The careers we thought we had built sometimes unravel. The talents we thought we had developed are no longer needed.
And sometimes we imagine we’re too old to start over.
What we need is a strong dose of inspiration for reinventing ourselves. And maybe today that inspiration can come from a thriving 91-year-old Buddy Ebsen.
So how about it? What latent skills do you have? What part of you is waiting to be reinvented? And do you have enough courage to do it regardless of your age?

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