Over the years, I’ve had many heart-to-hearts with a variety of different people when it comes to my career, about the direction I’m taking or how hard (or not) I might be working. Whether it’s over the phone, by e-mail, through BBM or – heaven forbid – in person, the gravity of those talks remains the same.
For the sake of saving some material (and dignity) for later blogs, there’s one in particular that I’ve got to hone in on and that’s the matter of instinct.
It’s a recurring theme in these talks. “When opportunity stands before you, do you seize it?”
Whenever I least expect it, whenever it seems like the subject has finally been laid to rest, it pops back up out of its grave with a renewed relevance the weaker side of me resists to admit.
The fact of the matter is that instinct is something I’ve always had – but there’s also an overbearing amount of introspection in there that’s part and parcel of who I am as a person.
In this business of show, in the tales of its legends and luminaries, you will find a very obvious through line. More often than not, what set them apart wasn’t talent or skill. In fact, that never seems to be a prerequisite.
No, folks – the quality in question, the one worth its weight in gold, is instinct. Balls. Big ol’ brass ones.
In the span of human history, only the names of a relative few have remained in our collective consciousness. Those who have a place in that hallowed hall of cultural significance did not have it handed to them.
There was a moment in their life when chance and circumstance aligned themselves and it was up to each one of those people to grab it, seize the day.
I’ll be the first to admit that over the course of my life, I’ve had my moments where all the variables righted themselves to my advantage and still I hesitated and I lost. Not just as a filmmaker, but as a son, as a friend, as a lover.
Why? Because when those times came, I sat there and thought too much about it.
What would happen if it didn’t work out? What would happen if it did? But during all this thinking, the doing fell by the wayside.
Again, fear was in my bones and my way of abating that was checking all the angles carefully, looking before every leap. And before I knew it, the moment Fate had deemed mine slipped through fingers that never grasped. That moment might as well have never been at all.
Every time a talk in this vein transpires, a little bit more of that picture I’ve never understood comes into focus and this time, I know I’ve cracked it. And this is what I took out of my glimpse this time:
In life, you can be the most cautious man in the world, tiptoeing over everything and peering around every corner before passing. But no golden opportunity will wait for you to examine everything before it departs in a huff and even despite your caution, you might still be blindsided by the one thing you never took into account anyway.
You have to go for it when you feel it in the marrow of your bones and take that leap of faith. Don’t think about what’s happened before or what happens next – just focus on the moment now. Otherwise, you’ll just become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone.
And let’s face it: when you put it that way, the choice seems pretty easy, yeah? Plus, I want to have some balls.