The other week, a few friends and I rented a cabin in the mountains of Colorado. It’s been a tradition since our time in LA, but this was presumably the last in our adventures before the advent of kids. All of us were on the cusp of starting a new family, a new career, and a new life before we scattered to the winds. It was like the start of a movie: a group friends gathering to discover important truths about themselves and establishing clear direction in their lives. And for me, I can say that…
Nothing like that happened.
… Okay, wait, let’s start again.
The other week, I ventured to Ithaca, to see an old friend at a turning point in our lives. I got to confront my old self and gain the clarity of my new self to change…
Nope. Nothing changed. Again.
This is a pattern for me, ladies and gentlemen. All these various trips and adventures I go on with others, from camping in Death Valley, to a 12 hour road trip to and from San Francisco for the perfect beer, all these “set ups” sound like the start of the film of my life. Like James, I have found myself perpetually in that place, awaiting that divine intervention to sweep me off my feet and into adventure and purpose. I am the one to put myself onto that line of thinking and as a result, it’s no one’s fault but mine when I am yet again let down by a lack of a 3-act pay off. To give up agency to the universe is freeing, but it also leaves you at its mercy.
To expect life itself to have your back because you’ve surrendered to it is not a valid way to live. It’s actually debilitating. You are just another piece among the flotsam and jetsam carried by the current of life. Life has no three act structure; that’s just a trick producers take credit for.
One of the biggest hurdles in writing Unlife has been finding that fine line between life and story structure and the debilitating slowness of someone who’s just a zombie, lurching through life. Because even when it feels like nothing’s happening, there’s a lot there. My trips were a blast. I got to feel like myself for just a few rare moments. Sure, there was no dramatic event that crafted a clear cut direction that overran my entire life moving forward. But those events are not the start of life’s story arc. They are a break from it. They are that white space in between the panels, where you step back and look at the story so far. Where you are out of the water for a second and look at the world around you, floating to the surface, smiling, saying “This isn’t so bad”, before taking a deep breath and diving back in.
The universe doesn’t bestow a life beyond being born. You must master your own destiny, not be a slave to the moment.
Don’t be the victim of a story. Live your own and make your own choices.
And take a deep breath.