For the past I-can’t-remember-how-many weeks now, my wife’s and my prevailing description for life has been “weird.” At times, we’ve worried calling our life at the moment that would manifest even more weirdness, but we couldn’t help it. Because “weird” is just plain the most apropos word.
Yet, not weird as in “bad.” Just strange. Odd.
The biggest factor in all this has been that my professional life recently has been a study in waiting. And patience. I’ve pretty much clammed up about the happenings in my writing life because a.) nothing’s officially “happened,” and b.) it’s all stuff that people involved really don’t want me talking about until, you know…something “happens.” Yet, there are some really cool things that are right at the finish line, just waiting for someone to say “Yes.” To give the nod to cross the line.
For those of you who know me, “waiting” and “patience” are not strong suits for me. I have, however, done my level best to rise to the occasion. And. Do. Nothing. Allow the process to unfold without mucking around in it. Well…mostly. I’ve mucked a couple of times, but I’m learning to pick my battles better.
Okay…what does all this have to do with my awesome wife and the bottle of sparkling wine in the picture?
Anyone who’s ventured onto the “entertainment industry as career” path knows that it’s a marathon. There are false starts. Setbacks. And mostly being “in the business” feels like nothing happens and nothing happens and nothing happens until…something happens. I’ve told people for years that despair has got to be the number one reason why people quit the business. It’s hard to stay positive a lot of the time, and unless you’re complete bonkers, pretty much every day you’re asking yourself, “Do I keep going? Can I keep going?” You get frustrated. You get tired. Well…I guess I can only speak for me. I certainly do.
And after running so long on this marathon path, it’s difficult to gauge whether or not you’re “winning” anymore.
That’s been the weirdness for me lately. I just didn’t know.
The further weird thing is that, if you ask the people around me, they would all cry out in unison, “Hell, yes! You’re winning!” My manger, producers with whom I’m working, friends, people I talk to on the street. They all tell me, “You’re right there, buddy!”
Logically, I know they’re right. I’m in a good space. I’m having a good Hollywood moment that seems like it’s gonna translate into propelling my career to the next big level. I see it, and I am grateful for everyone that has helped me get here. And everything that has happened to put me in this space.
But I wasn’t feeling it. In fact, the “weirdness” was really getting to me. Dragging me down. And it’s odd…I’ve thought more about quitting in the past couple of months than I have in a long time. My friend, Karl, keeps telling me that every other pal of his who’s “made it” has said the exact same thing to him right before they rocketed into the stratosphere. That’s helped. But all I can do is pray he’s right about me. That, in this case, I’m not the exception. Because right now I certainly don’t feel like part of the rule. Ack!
And then…enter my awesome wife.
We’ve made this pact. Don’t over-celebrate. On this path, you can easily do that. There are a lot of little wins along the way that are cool, but they aren’t really real. No one’s written you a check yet, and nothing’s gone into production. They’re hopeful moments…and represent potential and opportunity and forward movement. But they’re not the finish line. One can get caught up, though, in making too much of these incremental steps and start to mistake them for the finish line. That’s the danger of over-celebrating. It can give you a false sense of security, and it can stall you. So we tend to acknowledge hopeful moments but keep our excitement in check…and I keep my ass up and my beak down and keep moving forward.
But, of course, we keep a couple of bottles of sparkling wine in the fridge just in case. For that moment when the call comes in.
When my beloved got in the door from work last night, however, she made an announcement: “We’re gonna open one of our bottles of champagne.”
“Why? Nothing’s happened.”
“That’s not true,” she said as she grabbed the bubbly and started opening it. “I was driving home tonight and thinking about all of this ‘weirdness.’ I think a lot of it is there because we’re not acknowledging what has already happened. Look at where you are, Bill. Look at what you’re doing. Look at what’s happening. You’ve done it. You’ve won, and all that’s left is the living into it.”
She got out two champagne flutes and poured. Then she handed me a glass…and raised her own.
“And tonight I want to toast my amazing husband and all of his success.”
After a speechless moment, I was finally able to raise me own glass.
“Yes,” she agreed. “Our success.” Then she smiled. “Because you can’t do it without me.”
I smiled back. “I know. Nor would I ever want to.”
Then we toasted. And celebrated.
It taught us something. You can’t always wait to celebrate only at the end. Sometimes you have to celebrate the process. And the progress. Not all the time, but sometimes.
To remind yourself. Not your head. To remind your heart.
Life is good.
And it really is the journey that matters. And a great journey is, itself, cause for celebration.
After last night, the weirdness is all gone. We went for a walk this morning in the beautiful sunshine, and all we felt was free. And ready to take on anything.
Here’s to whatever comes next. Cheers!