Regrets, Reframes, and funny stories.
Typically at the end of the year I reflect on what’s happened, and pick a theme for the new year. I’m still working through my theme for 2023 but it has something to do with personal transformation and storytelling. But also probably fart jokes, cause of the whole man-child thing. I’m still processing it all, I’ll get there. Jeez.
There’s a bunch of questionnaires and prompts online for how to do this. Really its about reflection and then pivoting to plan for the new year. The how isn’t really as important as the why.
Each December I read the Top Five Regrets of the Dying article. It is a gut-punch. It always makes me think of what I am spending my time on. Maybe I should read it every season, or month even. It’s important enough for me not to lose track of in the day to day.
Put on your seatbelt and maybe grab a tissue, cause here’s the top regret from people on their deathbed.
I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.
Here’s Dan Pink with similar thinking:
Then there’s this quote, attributed to Les Brown.
The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.
Now that I have successfully harshed your mellow, let’s talk about Star Wars.
Oh great, another average 50 year old white dude talking about Star Wars…
My dad took me to see Star Wars when I was five or six years old. I have fundamental memories about this day.
First, the line was wrapped around the theatre three times. I remember waiting a long time to get in, and that was the first time I heard the F word. That was my dads initial reaction to seeing the line as we pulled into the theatre parking lot.
I remember being blown away by the movie. It was magic to my little eyes and brain. Magic.
On the way home my dad thought out loud “how did they do that?” I asked how did who do what? Cause what I saw was real. My dad told me that when people grow up they get jobs so they can make money to pay for stuff. Some are police officers (like my dad was) and some make movies.
To this day, Star Wars is fused with memories of my dad, the F word, and me not only learning about jobs and money but that some people have a job making movies.
In my late teens, I seriously considered moving to Los Angeles. I figured I be waiting tables, doing PA work in film and trying to move my way to cinematography and directing films. I loved photography at that point in my life.
That didn’t work out for whatever reasons. I never made the jump. I wound up studying computer animation in college. After college, I worked on some commercials, video projects, and then video games. I did that for a long time, over twenty years.
Over those years I had several opportunities to apply to and or interview with ILM. They’re the visual effects company that made Star Wars and many other films. Those opportunities never worked out. All for very good reasons.
I did work on a Star Wars video game along the way. I worked with great people, and it was an honor to work on such creative projects but it wasn’t fulfilling me like it had previously.
There’s two schools of thought. One is: Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. The other is Do what you’re good at for a living so you can do what you love on the side.
I agree with the later, I got burnt out by the first. I saw a lot of other folks burn out too. I am very grateful for the journey and where I am now. I’m doing what I am good at (which I really enjoy too) with the time and space to do what I love.
Would I have been burned out just the same?
And was working in film a dream left unfulfilled?
I’m really embracing a digital minimalism vibe after so many years working with technology. Doing things with as little technology as possible. And when I need to use tools, could they be old tools? Pen, paper, simple text on a computer to type stuff like this. No fancy apps, code, gizmos, automation, etc.
Five years ago I started studying and performing improv comedy (like Who’s Line is it Anyway?). Since then I’ve tried standup, and over the last year, Sketch comedy (like Saturday Night Live). You can see some of my comedy work here.
I love it all, but writing and performing Sketch is really great for me. It’s really hard, and super fun. There’s writing of ideas and drafts, the solo work. Then a ton of co-creation in the writing room, in rehearsal, and ultimately on stage. As the kids say, I am here for that. Telling comedic stories is lighting me up.
When I was younger I loved the idea of making Star Wars movies. Originally with cameras, then computer animation. All technology focused. Now I am looking to use less tech, and my own voice. Literally and figuratively.
All this brings me to writing and acting. To be involved in film making. That’s my next attempt at fulfilling the dream.
Full circle, reframed with different skills and tools, and no regrets.
I’m a member of the Hey Party People! Sketch group. Our next show is on Valentines day in Portland, Maine!
I’ve signed up for some sketch writing classes from The Second City, and have a short film and a feature film screenplays in various early stages of writing. It’s only January but I’m kicking around some ideas for Nanowrimo too.
This is how I intend to do what I love. I do not want to go to the grave wondering if I could have told funny stories. On stage, in film, or in books.
One the one hand, our access to tools, information, and the people to collaborate with has never been better. You could make a movie with a phone camera!
On the other hand, we’ve never been busier or more stressed out.
How can we make the time? How can we muster the energy?
I’m exploring all that myself and would love to talk about it with you.
Let me ask you a couple questions.
What do you regret not doing, how can you reframe it to find first small step you can take to do it?
If you want to talk about that, let me know. That’s the work I am good at and really enjoy.
Maybe there’s a funny story idea in your replies to this one…
You get one text, no more than 160 characters, that gets sent to everyone’s phone. What does it say?