A few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned she was about to begin her last year as a twenty-something; 30 would be upon her before she knew it. She went on to list 50 things she wants to accomplish in the coming year – many of which involve money and her art (she is a wonderful actress). It is an ambitious list. I wished her luck, and gave her a few words of advice. Since then I've been thinking about what I said, and realized I needed to add some more – both for her and for my other young friends, many of whom are artists of one type or another.
If I can give you one piece of advice: DO IT! Do everything on your list! Don't wait around thinking there will be a better time to start. There won't be. There is only time, and it goes a lot faster than you realize. Before you know it, you'll be 30. You'll go from 30 to 40 in about 10 minutes. And, from 40 to 50 even faster. Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, or Neil deGrasse Tyson might argue with me, but time really does speed up as you get older.
When I was your age, I thought 30 was old, and that I'd never get there. Hell, there were a few days when I was in the Army, I didn't think I'd make it to 22. Now, I'm 45 and there's very little I wouldn't trade to go back to 25 knowing what I know now.
I wish I could make you understand me. I know you don't. You can't. This is not an insult. It's just the way life works. You don't know what you don't know until years down the road. I was young. I had plans, and I didn't want to listen to "old" people. I had all the answers. I know so much more now.
One of the most important things I've learned about life is that it doesn't mean shit. In a hundred years, you'll be dead, and very little of this will matter. What people think of you now or then won't mean a damned thing. Sure, you might change the world; bring about peace in the Middle East; cure cancer; win a dozen awards – but it won't affect how your private life is judged.
Whether you graduated first in your class at Harvard, or at the bottom of a community college; if you're buttoned-down and conservative, or you get caught running naked through Times Square; even if your ex- posts your "No, Baby, I swear I'm the only one who'll ever see it" sex tape on-line; it might rate a line or two in your Wikipedia entry, and that's it. And, if you're dead – and if everyone you know, and who judged you, is dead too – what will you care?
Too many people in this world give a shit about things that don't matter a bit, especially other people's business. I figure, if you're not hurting someone else, and what you're doing works for you, fuck what other people think. It took me a long time to develop that attitude.
You have to do what makes you happy. Do it your way, but do it. Sing your song. If people don't like it, fuck ‘em. You're on your journey, not theirs. You have to do what you can with the time you've got.
But, remember, it's also important to stop and look at the world around you once in a while, to sit down and relax; take your bearings, and make sure you're on the right path. I should say, make sure you're on the right path for you!
It's OK to be a waitress, or a tire salesman, or a security guard, as long as you're also working toward what you love. If you have five minutes, sit down and read the trade papers, or scribble down the words banging around in your head.
Wayne Gretzky says, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." That applies to everything in life. 100 percent of the sonnets you don't submit get rejected. You're passed over for 100 percent of the parts you don't audition for. You don't get 100 percent of the raises you don't ask for. The worst anybody can say is no.
Now, I'm not saying you're automatically entitled to anything. This is life. It's not fair. The world doesn't owe you shit; not money, not love, not happiness, not success. You have to work for what you want, and keep at it. And, in the end, it may get you nowhere. But, if you don't go after what you want, you'll end up nowhere anyway. You pays your dollar, and you takes your chances!