Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A burning question.

My mother tells me that I never asked her "Why?" like so many kids do. I find this hard to believe because I know I questioned why I had to come in when the streetlights came on, why I had to eat those revolting beets and why I had to march in yet another Tulip Time parade. She sticks to her story and insists that my question, the one that drove her crazy, was "And then what happened?" I'll provide an example for you:

"Your father and I got married and went to the Pocono Mountains for our honeymoon."

"And then what happened?"

"It rained the whole time we were there."

"And then what happened?"

"Your sister happened."

You get the idea. Every time somebody recounted their day, I provided a minefield of questions about what happened next. I had an insatiable desire to find out the rest of the story. What I remember is that there was always more. Something always happened after whatever they were trying to tell me and it was almost always more interesting than whatever they originally wanted to share.

I have carried this fascination with me into adulthood. It serves me well in the world of screenwriting, but in my personal life it has become this giant, unspeakable thing in the center of my brain, dictating every action, every thought. Tomorrow is always more interesting than today. My accomplishments are nothing compared to what I'm going to do. The people in my life are never as impressive as the people I will meet tomorrow.

This is no way to live.

This never-ending quest I've been on to find the future and to dig into consequences has left me unable to fully appreciate the moment I'm living through. I never smile about today without worrying about tomorrow.

Some days I think the best thing that could happen is that I could be diagnosed with some terminal illness and be given six months to live. Poof! The future would be gone in a string of sentences uttered by some Beverly Hills doctor. Just like that I'd be free to let the world happen around me at its own pace. Fortunately, that's not my story.

My terminal disease is life. If I live to be eighty, I'll have almost fifty years to learn to forget about tomorrow and live for today, to stop being promising and start being good and to make a life on purpose instead of holding out for some vague nothing out there on the horizon.

As a child you can be anything, so I think I just wanted to know my options. As an adult I have already been many things, and now I find my list of available options getting shorter. Every day I cross off a few more and boil me down further to find whatever lies beneath my manicured layers of artifice and ego in a blind search for what I want my life to be. I know I'm getting close to it but I can't touch it yet, can't taste it on my tongue. I took a big step by writing this and putting it out there.

And then what happened?

1 comment:

  1. WOW....I need to let you read my journals from my college/young adult years so you can get a female perspective on this exact same and very frustrating trait! The good news is that, for me, age fixed the problem. At a certain point (maybe I'm just lucky) I just stopped worrying about what came next. Maybe I reached Nirvana. Maybe I just finally reached a place of contentment. Whatever. It was all good and I can now "...sha na na na na na, live for today."
    Good luck with that.