An Open Letter To Myself
[Update: 02-27-17] The below is a document of the time in which it was written. I have grown a little since I wrote this and would not necessarily say the same thing to myself today. There's a difference between living in the present, and striving for the future. But it's a document of its time nonetheless, and so I leave it here from when it was first published. - Thomas
April 23, 2016:
I’m living the dream. So why don’t I feel happier?
I remember a good few years of happiness. Three years at Maxwell. Three more at INSP. Stepping stones toward the dream. Honing my craft. Kicking ass. Earning a good income. Building relationships. Getting experience. Improving.
Lots of joy, those years.
But then it was time to move on. Alas, the playpen was but for a season.
Now, the mountain of destiny stood before me. But there wasn’t an elevator. There wasn’t even a damn stairway. Destiny, it would seem, was content to sunbathe at the mountain’s peak, not giving two shits if I was able to find my way to her.
That’s what they don’t tell you about destiny. She’s not paving the way for you. She’s giving you the finger. And at every painful juncture climbing up the mountain – each one claiming more and more drop-outs, fall-offs and quitters – she reminds you that the only thing keeping you on the course is your resolve.
Your singular desire to just want it.
That’s the secret to making it, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not a popularity contest or a talent contest. It’s an endurance test.
At least, that’s what I’m concluding on my way toward making it.
I quit my comfortable job in the playpen in May of 2015 and started my own company with my friend Justin. We hustled and we bled. We raised a little money and made our first feature film.
We did it. A feature film. A real movie. My debut feature, mind you. As if the world was waiting for it… (It wasn’t.)
Fare is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever made. People are responding to it. Early reviews have been beyond my expectations. I made good art and enough people get it. We’re premiering Tuesday at a big, respected film festival. We signed with a sales agent who says they’ll have it sold within two months.
Living the dream.
It’s just that I thought I’d be enjoying this more.
The truth is I’m worn out from the grind it took to get here. I look behind me and see a lot of mountain between where I am and where I started. But then I look up and see Destiny flipping me off again – at least that’s what I assume she’s doing. She’s too high up for me to actually get a clear look.
Oh you thought it’d be easy, Thomas? You thought the playpen was preparing you for a happy journey, with shits and giggles to be had along the way? You thought that “struggle” would feel like the time you forced yourself to eat your first piece of sushi? Or the time you lifted an extra 20 pounds on the barbell?
You didn’t think it’d look like despair, did you? You didn’t think it’d feel like depression. Or hopelessness. You didn’t realize how lonely and lost real struggle feels like, did you?
If you wanted it easy you should have stayed in the playpen.
But if you want to be a man of influence then get back to climbing. You talk a big vision game. How big is it, bro? Or let me put it another way: how big are you willing to make it?
Or was it all just conjecture?
Take heart, Thomas. What you’re learning is that the path to success isn’t an open freeway. It’s a slalom course of stone roads paved with the bodies of the ones who wanted an easier journey. The ones who let the dream die when it was most tested.
Remember well your past seasons of joy, and let them serve to remind you of what lay ahead. The peace. The happiness. You’ll remember it all again when you get there.
And you’ll get there.
But I won’t bullshit you and say it’s just around the corner. I’m not from the future. I don’t know how long it will take. I’m just your True Self speaking through the pretense that you sometimes hide behind.
But when you do get there, you’ll look back on the climb and thank Destiny for not installing that elevator. I promise.
The cuts. The bruises. The broken bones. That’s the stuff of experience. That’s the stuff of influence.
I know it’s hard. But believe me when I tell you the struggle is the point.
Remember the book of Job and that thesis statement you like to impress Bible students with: only through suffering can wisdom be discovered.
Only through suffering can Wisdom be discovered.
Only through suffering.
This is what living the dream looks like.
And in the immortal words of Andy Dufresne, “get busy living or get busy dying.
That’s goddamn right.”