A lot of people have said 2018 was a hard year for them and I know for myself that despite some huge and generally positive changes I am still light years from where I want to be.
The big question isn’t “what to do about that?” because the one thing I’ve learned this past year is that I set my goals so far out of reach that when I fail to come within striking distance of my dreams I beat myself up for being inadequate; “I make the wrong choices, I want the wrong things, I tell the wrong stories, I lack the talent…”
This was the year I decided not to enter anymore screenwriting competitions but to put my previous accomplishments to the test. After all, the goal isn’t to win a competition, its getting an agent, selling a script, seeing a movie get made. I spent the entire month of January rewriting scripts that were good, but not quite “there.”
These scripts have been quarter-finalists, semi-finalists and finalists in a number of competitions including Sundance Episodic, American Zoetrope, The Athena List, the Atlanta Film Festival, the Page Awards, Launch Pad, and the Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship, so clearly, I am doing something right, and yet not quite “right” enough to break lose from the pack.
It worked. For awhile, anyway.
I got an agent, and a spot with the Athena/IRIS TV lab in L.A. I met with some executives who loved my writing, came up with an idea for a new script that practically wrote itself, started a novel, my new agent dropped me, the option on three projects expired, we quit the mobile RV repair business and paid down some credit card debt, planned a trip to Paris next year, and for months now I have struggled with the worst depression of my life.
I came into this world boiling over with ambition and the drive to make my dreams a reality and I am terrified that I will die before I find my true purpose. It isn’t art, and it doesn’t seem to be writing, and if I lived to be a million years old and had all the money in the world I am not sure I would ever be able to cram everything in that I want to do and experience before its all over.
And in the end, I am my own worst enemy and I know it. I always have been. I could want different things, pursue different goals, practice peace, foster contentment, let the future come to me instead of comparing myself to other people and wanting things I don’t have and may never get and working so hard to the exclusion of all else to force my dreams into reality that I’ve managed to lose myself somewhere along the way.
I have a friend on safari right now with the man of her dreams. She is in her mid thirties, stunningly beautiful , with a kind and generous heart, and while I have only known her for a few years, I know enough about her history to know she has been waiting all of her life for this man. I also know that she almost missed him. Her previous boyfriend moved out of their apartment while she was in Mexico for her birthday and, heartbroken, she decided on the spur of the moment to go to Burning Man by herself for a few days.
They met on the Playa and they’ve been together ever since. He’s perfect for her and I can feel how happy she is with him no matter where they are in the world.
I’ve been so focused for so long on what I want and what I thought I had to do to get there that even if the perfect thing was right under my nose I don’t think I would be open enough to see what the universe was trying to give me.
So as I say goodbye to 2018, I chose to say goodbye as well to dreams and goals. I still want what I want, but if I have learned anything this year, its that I am a brilliant writer, an exceptional artist, a good cook, a kind friend, an interior decorator, a caretaker for seven animals, that I live with a wonderful man who loves me deeply, in a place of great beauty, and if I ever really expect to find my true purpose in life, its time to get out of my own way and let the future find me.