Last Sunday I sat down with great anticipation to watch the Oscars. I was pretty nervous, my hands were a little sweaty and I had butterflies doing backflips in my stomach. I couldn’t believe the day had finally arrived. I was finally going to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. I had dreamed about this day so many times. I wondered how heavy the trophy was, how many steps it would take me to get to the stage, how many people I would hi-five along the way. I ran it over and over in my head.
I was a little surprised when Sunday arrived and we still hadn’t received our official invitation from the Academy to attend the awards show. I figured this was a minor glitch and I would probably have to accept my award “via satellite”. I wasn’t exactly sure how “via satellite” worked but was confident that my iPhone had an app for that. Instead of focusing on these minor details, I turned my attention to writing and re-writing my acceptance speech. Should I be funny or be serious? There were so many people to thank and so little time. I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget anyone and at the same time knew the “get off the stage” music would come quickly.
The show started and my nerves started to kick into overdrive. Little beads of sweat started to gather on my forehead and trickle down the side of my face. My palms sweating so much I was scared it would smear the ink on my speech. I would have to remember to laminate it next year.
And then everything stopped! It hit me like a bolt of lightening right between the eyes! I can’t remember the exact moment but it was somewhere between Melissa Leo dropping the “F-bomb” and the Sound Editing award. I snapped back to reality and realized that I wouldn’t be winning an award. I wouldn’t win Best Original Screenplay. I wouldn’t be giving my acceptance speech. And the reason why?
Well there were thousands of reasons why, but the most blatantly obvious one was that I hadn’t written a movie. In fact in all honesty I’ve never even tried to write a movie, or anything even close to a movie. It felt silly to me now that I had amazingly overlooked what seemed at the moment to be a very important detail.
Now with all of that being said, I have dreamed of writing a movie millions of times. I have been a HUGE movie lover ever since I can remember, and I love every aspect of the movies from the acting, to the soundtrack, to the credits, to the dark theater, to the smell of popcorn around every corner. But most of all I love the creativity (even for bad movies). I love the fact that someone had to sit down and write out their ideas and then those ideas came to life on screen for all of us to see.
I have spent countless hours in my car coming up with different movie plots, and a couple of years ago I even started keeping a notebook with all my ideas. There are now about 50 ideas in my notebook and most are pretty bad but a couple could be pretty good. So as I sat there on my sofa that Sunday night and watched David Seidler win my award (Best Original Screenplay for The King’s Speech –great movie if you haven’t seen it), I had to ask myself why this was a dream I had never pursued. I obviously “wanted” to write a movie, but still had never done anything about it. In asking the question I seemed to be hit with two answers, two answers that seemed to explain why sometimes dreams stay as dreams and never make their way to our reality.
Fragile Package – Handle with great care – Dreams are these amazing things that give us the capability to pursue our highest selves. They allow us to see what we could be and what we could do. And while dreams hold these amazing powers, they are also tremendously fragile and need great care to see the light of day. So in order to effectively care for your dream, you have to give it attention everyday. You have to add detail to that dream and you do this by taking little baby steps. For with each baby step, a new sight or sound or color is added to the picture in your head and helps bring it to life. Suddenly a hazy image starts to become clear, and you can see the trees swaying in the wind and you can hear the birds singing as they fly through the sky. But not only do you have to add more detail to your dream, but you also have to hold onto it as tightly as you can. I imagine dreams to be like helium balloons, and once your grasp loosens just a little bit they seem to float away. For just as easily as you can imagine one dream you can imagine another one to take it’s place.
Over my life I have realized several dreams and I have also had the chance to be around a number of people that have fulfilled some of theirs too (as I’m sure you have also). Those dreams, no matter how grand, came to be because they were nurtured and held as close as a newborn baby. Despite the obstacles that were presented they kept adding to that picture in their head, and never let go of the idea that it would come true. That’s it! Nothing more, nothing less.
When I relate that idea to why I haven’t taken the chance on writing a movie, I see that I haven’t nurtured the dream at all. I have used it for entertainment value, to help pass the time in the car. Similar to playing the game “What would I do if I won the lottery?”. The idea of actually writing a movie is an outlandish dream for me. Something too big to actually grasp, and so whenever the dream would grow just a little bit, it would often be let go and replaced by another dream. Another dream that I could see the details just a little easier.
The destruction of Practicality – As a child we are encouraged to dream big dreams. To think of the biggest thing that we can imagine and then multiply it to be 10,000 times greater. We are often told by adults that we can be whatever we want to be. We are told that nothing is impossible. I truly believe all of these things with every fiber of my being and actually tell my kids the exact same things (see previous post).
However as I’ve gotten older I see that in order to fulfill these dreams you will have to face new enemy, a truly destructive beast, that goes by the name of Practicality.
Kids aren’t practical at all. They want ice cream for breakfast and want to go swimming when it’s snowing outside. Not being practical is one of the great things that makes kids kids. But along with growing up often comes more responsibility and as soon as responsibility enters your life, you quickly learn the concept of practicality. Now making practical decisions certainly has it’s place and value in your life however when it comes to fulfilling dreams it can stop them dead in their tracks. Practicality is often used in society as a term to denote making a responsible decision, however I think a better definition (especially when applied to dreams) is predictability. We often make decisions based off of our past experiences and therefore can better predict what the outcome will be. The amazing thing about dreams though is that they are usually things that we have never done before, things that we have never experienced. So therefore it is hard to make practical (predictable) decisions about these things.
I have no basis for writing a movie because I’ve never done it before. Therefore it seems very impractical for me to pursue this because I have no prior experience. Now there are approximately 2,500 movies produced each year (more than 6 scripts a day), and who knows how many more scripts are written and never produced. So the actual idea of writing a movie is not that crazy, as people literally do it every single day, it just doesn’t register with my reference points. My practical thinking therefore works everyday to loosen my grip on this dream, and often wins.
The easiest way to defeat practicality though is simply to take baby steps and therefore increase your circle of predictable options. If I look at my dream of writing a movie, that simply means I actually have to start….well, writing a movie. Just do this and bing, bang, boom I have a new circle of practicality. Practicality is no longer working against me, but helping to protect and nurture that dream.
Writing a movie is one of the things on my bucket list. It is one of those things that I have really wanted to do, but was more comfortable dreaming about it then actually doing it. After watching the Oscars on that Sunday night, I thought it was time to move forward with this dream. Shortly after the show ended I entered a script writing contest for a small show that is broadcast on the internet. The script could only be 5 pages in length, and it took me all of an hour to write it. The chances of winning the contest are next to nothing, but what it provided me was far greater than any prize I would receive. For in that hour of writing I added a couple more colors to that dream in my head, and gave my best Heisman pose to the impending army of practicality.