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Golden tickets, golden handcuffs

by Matt Boren

If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to do, do it.
You’ll want to change the world. There’s nothing to it.
– Willy Wonka (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory)

I’ve watched Charlie Bucket find the Golden Ticket at least one hundred times. Without fail, I get chills. And now I know that Golden Tickets are not only to be found in Wonka Bars. They are everywhere. Often in plain view. Our eyes just need to be clear enough to see them.

I work on a television sitcom right now and we just had a conversation in the writer’s room about a writer who committed suicide. There are many things that surrounded the circumstances of this man taking his life, one of which I can’t stop thinking about: his emotional and spiritual suffering in his career. Suffering he sustained for years because no matter how much pain he was in, the money was just too good to let go of. He was cuffed to the money. Cuffed to the gold. He lived and died in golden handcuffs.

After the conversation someone asked me if I, having children to take care of, understood the power of the golden handcuffs. I do. I’ve read everything there is to read about Madoff. Enron. AIG. My father, my greatest role model, was a CEO at AIG. He worked in the insurance division of the giant. He got an emergency call on a weekend and immediately flew from Boston to New York where he was briefed on the firestorm AIG was about to be in.

My father sat down with our family and told us that he was in direct moral conflict with everything he just found out about. And that, with our blessing, he was going to leave AIG and point his compass in a new direction. One that may or may not be as financially lucrative. We gave him our blessing. How could we not? We were raised by him.

I watched my father go out into the great wide open. I watched him, with clear eyes, look at the view. And in it he saw a Golden Ticket. And he took it. And, like Charlie, he now has a factory all his own.

I am very happy at my job. But I know with all certainty that if ever I am not, I will go out into the great wide open and, with clear eyes, look for my next . . . well . . . you know.

Matt Boren

About Matt Boren

Matt Boren grew up on the East Coast. He is a writer/actor currently living in Los Angeles. He danced to "My Prerogative" at his bar mitzvah where his theme was Hollywood.

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