When I was a child, the days, weeks and months took forever to pass.
A day seemed to drag on. A week or a month seemed forever. The time from one Christmas to the next might as well have been a lifetime.
And then I got old enough to start thinking about my future self — the adult self who would conquer the world, make a fortune and be loved. I longingly looked forward to that day. I made childish plans. I had fantasy stories in which I was the beloved hero.
When I grew up, I would do all the things I yearned to do — and I would be happy in that distant tomorrow. The picture was crystal clear in my young mind.
Decades later, tomorrow has never come.
I’ve known people who live in the past, but I’ve known others who live in a perfect future that never comes. They think if some particular thing can happen, it will allow something else good to happen — and then they’ll be happy. Until then, everything is on hold.
I knew a very talented woman who was going to be a famous writer. She had the talent. She had the ideas. She was going to write wonderful books. Some day. But she’s done nothing with her talent. She has never gotten the satisfaction and happiness she wanted.
Tomorrow has never come for her.
I knew a man who was going to be happy when he moved to some faraway land. Maybe it was California. Or it could be Minnesota. Maybe Mexico. Or Australia. The specifics don’t matter. He pored over pictures and maps and dreamed about how happy his life would be once he got there. But he never moved anywhere. He never lived the happy life he dreamed of.
Tomorrow has never come for him.
Although the specifics of what I want have changed over the years, many things have always been clear. I wanted a wife and children to love. I wanted to use my talents to make things I was proud of. I wanted people to love my work enough to make me financially successful. I would be happy. I would have all of that — tomorrow, of course, not today.
But somehow, tomorrow has never come. In fact, tomorrow seems to keep moving forward as I do — and I constantly find new excuses why I can’t have the love or happiness that I want today. I keep sabotaging my life in ways that make it clear that a part of me doesn’t want to get there.
About seven years ago, I sabotaged a loving relationship that was about to lead to marriage. Around the same time, I sabotaged my career to the point that I lost success right as I was starting to make a lot of money.
When I made a short film 10 years ago, it was more successful than I had dreamed possible. It was in 20 film festivals and won a handful of awards, including favorite audience comedy at a couple of festivals. It’s been seen more than 300,000 times on YouTube. But I got scared and refused to do the things necessary to make more films or move on to bigger films. I told myself I would make more films when I had a creative and business partner, but I haven’t even allowed myself to seriously pursue that.
After the romantic breakup seven years ago and the sabotage to my career and film goals, I got depressed and started eating again. I put on more weight than I’m willing to admit — because I was using sugar the way an alcoholic uses booze. I was trying to meet my emotional needs by eating my way through ice cream cartons.
With every problem I’ve created for myself, I’ve said things will be different when that problem is taken care of. Always tomorrow.
When I find someone to partner with me in producing films, I’ll make movies and be happy.
When I find a way to sell my art to someone, I’ll have money again. Then I’ll be happy.
When I get rid of the excess weight I’ve gained, then I’ll be attractive to a young woman who might fall in love with me and want to marry me and have a family together. Then I’ll be loved. And then I’ll be happy.
But I sit here mired in the muck of today instead. My eyes are on the bright, clear future in which I’m happy. It’s a future in which I’m my normal weight again. I’m driving a reliable car I’m happy with again. I have plenty of money in that future. People love my art and they’re willing to pay me to do the work that makes me fulfilled. Most of all, there’s a woman who loves me — who loves me for what I am and allows me to love her as she is.
But fear somehow keeps me from doing the things I need to do. It’s fear of not being good enough. It’s fear of failure. It’s fear of success. It’s fear of not being loved. It’s a fear that says, “If you get rid of that weight and if you let yourself be successful — and if nobody still loves you — you’ll have to admit you’re unlovable.”
And so I’m scared to shed excess weight and be attractive.
I’m scared to make my art.
I’m scared to allow myself to be successful.
I’m scared to make the deep connections I yearn for.
I’m scared to be loved.
I’m scared to be happy.
I know how to be happy tomorrow. I know how to be successful and fulfilled and loved tomorrow. I can see all that clearly in the future.
I somehow have to accept all of that today, not just in a tomorrow that never comes.