We are raised to plan for the future. Upon our birth, our parents start squirreling away money for a college fund, fantasizing about their offspring becoming doctors, lawyers… I’m sure, rarely artists.
Regardless, they optimistically make plans for us and for our rosy future.
But what if there is no future? What if ‘future’ is something we are never guaranteed?
Because guess what? We aren’t. ‘Future’ does not exist. There is only today. Just today. ‘Future’ is merely a hope. You can’t bank on hope.
Imagine if you went to bed each night not knowing if you would wake in the morning. Really, that is what we do… we just don’t realize it. Every night we lay our heads on our pillows, drifting off to sleep, taking for granted our eyes will pop open hours later, refreshed and ready.
I’d like you to stop taking tomorrow for granted. I’d like you to think of each morning your eyes open wide as a gift of another day of life.
What will you do with it?
Will you piss it away, procrastinating, rationalizing tomorrow is another day, and you’ll just get that screenplay started then, and go back to playing video games or dinking around on Twitter?
Tomorrow may never come.
Read that again: Tomorrow… may… never… come.
Those four words have haunted my life these past five months since I lost my best friend in an instant. I always thought we had tomorrow. I always thought we had time to outline that script or take that carriage ride through Central Park. Those 26 innocent people who died in Newtown, CT thought they had a lifetime of tomorrows too, as did their families.
2012 taught me the hardest lesson of all: No one is guaranteed tomorrow. It’s what you do today that matters.
If there is ever a piece of advice I want you to take from my columns, it is the following:
- Stop procrastinating.
- Stop making excuses.
- Stop waiting to live your life.
- Stop waiting to feel.
- Take a risk. A real risk.
That girl you see on the subway every morning but are afraid to talk to… go get her. The story idea you’ve had for years, and pay lip service to… put it on the page, even if only a paragraph outline. The friend you haven’t called in forever because you had some dumb fight you can’t even remember the details of… pick up the phone. The career you say you want as a writer… do something about it. Today. Right now.
Today isn’t the first day of the rest of your life, it’s the only day you have. Remember, there is no future. What have you got to lose? Feel that sense of urgency. Feel the ticking clock.
You do it for your characters, now do it for yourself.
Tick, tick, tick.
As Robert McKee says, a person’s character is defined by how s/he behaves under pressure. This is I, pushing up the pressure gauge and forcing you to make a choice. Whatever choice you make will determine any sense of satisfaction you feel as you lay your head down to rest tonight.
I dare you to have a satisfying day, knowing you lived your life fully and left no stone unturned.
Spend today doing something you’ve been putting off. Start with something simple. Write for one hour. Oh, you need something to write? OK, allow me to help.
While dinking around on Twitter one day (I admit, I dink), I saw a tweet by Dana Brunetti, President of Trigger Street Productions, announcing Jameson First Shot 2013, a contest where three short film scripts are chosen for production, and this year, instead of Kevin Spacey, will star Willem Dafoe.
Call me crazy, but you could spend today writing the no-more-than seven page script for submission (a full list of rules can be found here). It’s an incredible opportunity you cannot and should not pass up. Seriously. Seven pages. You can’t do that? Pfft.
The deadline is January 1st, so get crackin’.
Oh yeah, I’m double-dog daring you. Why? Because if you aren’t trying, you aren’t living. You’re just wasting your breath. Breath someone else would love to have. A life someone else no longer has to live. You have yours. Don’t waste it. Not even a day.
Of one thing I am certain in this world and that is there are no do-overs. Not a single one. I can’t tell you how many times I have said these past five months, “If I could just go back in time…”
I can’t. You can’t. You have today. Only today. Don’t wait for a New Year’s resolution to change your life. Make every single day count.
“Can’t” should never be in your vocabulary.
Grab hold of today and live, and if your eyes pop open tomorrow morning, smile brightly and own that day too. The best part of embracing each day is, if your eyes don’t open tomorrow, everyone in your life will know you truly lived to your fullest potential. That is an amazing gift to leave behind for those who love you. Priceless.
Consider this my two cents from tough lessons learned this year. I’m not making resolutions any more. I’m simply going to be all I can be. Every. Freakin’. Day.
Tools to Help: