ALFREDO: an old friend of mine wrote a terrific script called “The Many Wishes of Eli Barrow.” In it, the protagonist’s love interest says, “Let’s not allow our dreams to stand in the way of our happiness.”
This is a HUGE deal: how to keep your sanity when your aspirations collide with reality?
You might wish with all your heart to be a great chef, a heroic firefighter, an Academy Award winning screenwriter, a fantastic gardener, an admired painter, musician, singer or race car driver, but it might not happen. Or it might not happen when you want it to. So how do you find the balance? Between hope/resignation; between ambition/acceptance; between dreaming of the future/savoring the present?
How do you not let the setbacks on the road to pursuing your dreams sour your regular old daily life?
For anyone who strives after a dream, Mr. Lennon’s words ring true:
QUENTIN: Being a FOB, I was taught English the old fashioned way by my beloved Berkeley professor Julian Boyd. He has taught me the clear modality distinction between wish and hope. We always say “I wish I could…” with “could” being not the past tense but the subjunctive modal denoting impossibility and improbability. When you wish something you know it isn’t going to happen. Then we always say “I hope I can…” because “can” is the modal denoting possibility and potential. When you want something and hope for something… it is in the possible and potential realm of things to happen. So the question is do you wish or hope? If you wish, then it is already a dream in the impossible.
ROGER: There are certain endeavors one can take on that, fortunately or unfortunately, require 100%+ of your time just to keep moving forward. Just one thing. Things like novelist, painter, director, writer, actor, pro athlete, POTUS, politician, etc. are some of those types of pursuits. Starting out in life, doing something requiring such singular dedication isn’t too difficult because you just have yourself and your passion to tend to. Balance is not hard because you have no other balls to juggle. But as we journey through life, we are presented with choices that some see as societal conventions but perhaps, more accurately and less cynically, are existential questions served up in rather pedestrian form – do you marry, do you have children, do you take on additional responsibilities that require significant time/resource commitment outside of your chosen career/endeavor? There are certain things one can choose to do for a career that makes the whole life balance thing easier or harder or sometimes nearly impossible. Every industry has easier paths as well as more difficult ones when it comes to creating a balanced life. More often than not, though, when someone goes off to “pursue their dream” you can bet they are picking a path that requires 100%+ of your dedication, 24/7/365 with little to no room for other, more conventional life pieces (marriage, kids, suburbs, scheduled vacations, etc) to significantly come into play. You just have to bear down and go for it, nonstop.
Many of us at YOMYOMF have chosen a career path that makes life balance challenging. Working in Hollywood is just like that. It’s an incredible adventure and presents experiences that can make the mouths of anyone at any dinner party around the world drop to the floor in amazement and envy. On the flip side, however, it’s a professional system that requires tremendous hustle and flow, all the time. You have to keep moving forward hard and continuously, even if you are considered “successful” or “powerful”. You cannot stop. Why? Truth be told, there are far too few positions for far too many passionate and motivated achievers in the entertainment biz. The people who are willing to work the hardest, have the most talent, network the most effectively and most often, are the easiest to get along with, and/or a combo of some or all of these qualities will rise some way or another. But the challenge in working in a business when everyone is expendable, even the one’s with Academy Awards, is that you have to keep that kind of hustle and flow going as long as you physically, spiritually, and/or mentally can. If you really want to play the Hollywood game at the highest level, trying to lay out and live the other pieces of life’s existential Venn diagram is, without doubt, challenging. It’s just the nature of the beast.
That being said, it all comes down to passion. Do you LOVE it? If you truly LOVE what you are doing, any/all sacrifices is justifiable. No matter how hard it gets, nothing will stop you. Nothing. Personally, after 17 years of working in Hollywood, I truly believe this. If you want to work in Hollywood you have to LOVE IT. LOVE IT more than anything and everything else in life. If you have that kind of love, your journey will be rich regardless of the ultimate destination. Anything else, and the journey may ultimately be too scary, challenging, and/or unpredictable to bear in the long run. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a thing. In Hollywood, you Just Do It. But make sure you truly Love It as you Do It. It’ll make all the difference. : )
PHILIP: For me it’s always been more about the journey than the results. Life’s just more enjoyable and interesting that way.
DHH: Trying to achieve balance is one of life’s most difficult, yet most important, goals. Should we sacrifice domestic priorities such as a stable romantic partnership, kids, and family, for the sake of our career dreams? And how do we know when it’s time to give up on a dream? Obviously, answers will vary from person to person. But here’re a few thoughts which may be worth considering. 1) If your art no longer brings you joy, then it’s probably time to move on. 2) If you decide to have a kid, then parenting has to become one of your top priorities. 3) We all have to make money, but the dream of making money is a pretty impoverished one.
IRIS: I wish I knew the answer to that. I have a feeling most people in Hollywood are crazy, including myself.
For me, reaching my goals has never altered my state of happiness. I’ve been lucky enough to realize a big dream of mine, and when it happened, I was like, oh, that’s funny, I’m totally the same.
I think life is better lived when you enjoy or appreciate what you have, no matter what’s going on. Our time is so brief; it’s not ideal to spend it wishing it were different. That said, I completely understand and can relate to striving for a dream and dealing with the frustration of not achieving it, or of not having achieved it yet. I’ve “failed” at many, many things, but what’s nice about life is that you can keep trying forever.
The process/chase can be fun, too. People like anticipation (and studies have shown that anticipation can sometimes provide more pleasure than the actual event).
Though I generally feel that if you pursue something diligently, you get it (though maybe not always in a way you’d expect), there are plenty of exceptions – winning Olympic gold, a certain role, etc. I really feel for athletes since they sacrifice like crazy and sport situations are so challenging.
But I guess when you pick a formidable battle to begin with, you’re aware of the possible outcomes. And athletes have such mental strength, they’re well-equipped to deal with whatever happens (that’s my guess, at least). As for artistic careers, I think they offer a great situation because in them, one always has hope and never-ending opportunities in which to achieve small or big victories.
Yes, there are plenty of setbacks, but until you actually expire, you always have opportunity.