If you knew this was your last day, would you do anything different than you normally do? Would you take that leap of faith? Would you go skydiving? Swim with sharks? Submit that novel? Tell someone how you really feel?
Or would you just sit there and let the day end, feeling as though whatever action you took it wouldn’t really matter anyway because, well, it’s your last day and what is the point?
I think it’s interesting how people think they have all of the time in the world to make their dreams a reality, when in truth time is nothing more than an excuse we give ourselves to stay in our comfort zone. Because as long as we are in our heads instead of taking action, we are presumably safe and don’t have to face the fear of rejection.
Some of us will spend our whole lives in our heads. We conquer companies there, win an Oscar, have a love affair, write that book, take that trip around the world. I mean, we can do anything in our imaginations, right? But when it comes down to doing something about all those dreams, we come up with a million excuses as to why it won’t work, so we do absolutely nothing instead.
Recently I lost an acquaintance of mine. He and I had an unusual relationship. His name was Sandy and he was my manager for awhile. Sandy was the quintessential New Yorker who had a background in acting himself. He told it like it was and my fragile self often had a hard time with his words. Sometimes when I visited him he would just stare at me. When I finally broke the silence, with, “What?” He would say, “I’m just taking you in.”
Sandy represented my oldest son, Spencer too. He told me Spencer was a star. He is! He has that star quality about him and lights up a room every time he enters one. He is charismatic and has a brilliant stream of consciousness. When I told him Sandy died, he cried. He told me that they played ping pong together in his office once as they went over his monologue for college admissions. Spencer was 1 of 12 kids accepted into the MFA in Acting program at UConn.
As I reflected on our time together, I realized no one had ever pushed me like he had. I needed pushing in order to achieve the dreams I have for myself, so I reached out to Sandy a few months ago about having him represent me again. He said he would be interested in working with me and to get back to him in a month. I got busy with life and didn’t get back to him for three.
I didn’t hear from him after I sent him my materials and thought it odd. Of course if you’re an actor or any person waiting to hear from someone after you have reached out, you start to think the worst. What is the worst we imagine? Rejection of course. But that’s not the worst! Death is the worst. Never speaking to or seeing someone ever again is the biggest thing you should fear; nothing else matters at all.
I went to his website and saw that there were still operating hours for the agency so I called Sandy’s number. A man answered the phone that sounded just like him but said he was Sandy’s cousin. He said, “I was just heading out and heard Sandy’s phone ring. I don’t usually answer it, but thought it might have something to do with my work.” His cousin lives in LA and is an Emmy winning Producer. We chatted for a bit and he asked me to send my materials to him, so I did. I am meeting with him this week.
People like to say that life is short, but until you experience something like this, you really cannot grasp how short it really is. I regret that I waited so long to get back to Sandy. I assumed he would live forever because he was that tough. But he didn’t.
None of us are immortal. In fact, we all have a certain amount of days here; we just don’t know how many. We assume we have endless amounts, which is why we hold off on doing so many things we dream about.
This passing of Sandy woke me up quite a bit. It made me realize how I put things off or wait for the right circumstance to take action. But it’s all an illusion. A lie we tell ourselves. There is no perfect circumstance. There is only now. And right now I know that actions get results; thinking about taking actions gets you nothing.
It is in this one defining moment that the magic happens. Once you take that initial step the doors open one by one and all that is required of you is to keep walking. There is no struggle, there is no force, there is simply a willingness to live each day like it is your last.
If you don’t know which action to start with, close your eyes, take a deep breath and let all those beautiful images you have in your head, be your guide.