“Life is short.” “You only live once.”
Those phrases have become platitudes. But as time passes in my life, I’m acutely more and more aware of how little time I have alive—even if I live to a ripe, old age—and how precious that time is.
Death isn’t something that will always happen to someone else. It will happen to me. And to you. Life has a 100 percent mortality rate.
I’m 35 now. The average life expectancy a thousand years ago was 30. Holy crap.
A while ago, it really struck me when I read somewhere that no one dies of old age. There is no such thing as dying of old age. A stroke, heart failure, cancer—it’s always something horrible that gets you. And one in five of us won’t even make it to “old age.”
So knowing your time is limited, how are you going to use today? What kind of artist do you want to be remembered as? Mediocre? Or a legend?
If you’ve been dreaming about moving to the big city and pursuing your dream, do it. If you’ve been kicking around that screenplay idea, but been procrastinating, do it. Write it now, because if you die tomorrow, the world will never have had a chance to be impacted by it. If you’re being a lazy, self-sabotaging actor, wake the fuck up and commit yourself to the pursuit of excellence in every aspect of your craft. If you’re under-skilled, get your ass in class.
Whatever you are putting off until tomorrow, whatever you think can wait, you are dead wrong. It can’t wait. Do it today because otherwise it will never happen. And wouldn’t you rather die in pursuit of your dream, than never having even begun the journey?
And let’s address another thing: There are a ton of wonderful, inspiring articles, speeches, and books in the world. The Internet and social media have given us platforms to discover and share the most moving, motivating words mankind has ever written or spoken. But if it never compels you to take action in your life, the constant consumption of inspirational words and art is just temporary emotional and intellectual gratification.
If you don’t get out there and start dating your dream, you’ll never get into a relationship with it, and you’ll never get married to it, and have little dream babies.
You can’t live your dream vicariously through others and their words and achievements. Why constantly torture yourself with the just the potential of fulfillment? Right now, if you’re not working towards being someone whose quotes and achievements inspire others one day, what are you doing with your precious, limited time? Dying on the vine, that’s what. Watching the sand pour downward in the hourglass.
In our society, sometimes it feels like we keep death at a distance. We view death as a personal failure. “He lost his fight against cancer.” We avoid the topic. Fail to plan for it. We hide death away in hospitals, retirement homes, funeral homes, and cemeteries. I’ve only once seen a dead body, at a funeral, face reconstructed to look normal after a shooting. He just looked like he was sleeping.
But in other cultures, the reality and subject of death is more present in the experience of everyday life, sometimes tragically, sometimes beautifully, and sometimes even celebrated.
When we keep the reality of death at a distance, or treat it as an enemy, we lose sight of the ever-present blessing and friend it is, in a way. It’s there to remind us, every day, to make the most of our time alive. With every breath you miraculously take, death is telling you to do what makes you fulfilled, and to do it now.
In an ideal world, each of us would act as though each day was our last opportunity to deliver as much of the creative potential of our lives to the world as we can.
My friends, as an artist, don’t settle for less than the world deserves from you. Act. Be a legend.
Because life is short, and you only live once.
- July 2019
- Apr 25, 2018 5 Risks of Acting in Non-Union Commercials Apr 25, 2018
- Aug 17, 2017 How to Take Full Advantage of Your SAG-AFTRA Membership Aug 17, 2017
- May 30, 2017 3 Essentials for Brilliant Work May 30, 2017
- Feb 9, 2017 Stop Apologizing Feb 9, 2017
- Jan 18, 2017 Why Good Slates Matter Jan 18, 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- Sep 9, 2016 2 L.A. Session Directors on What Actors Need to Know Sep 9, 2016
- Jun 6, 2016 We’re Not Evolved to Handle Acting Well Jun 6, 2016
- May 31, 2016 3 Ways Stage Training Adversely Affects On-Camera Actors May 31, 2016
- Apr 14, 2016 4 Ways for Working Actors to Deal With Emotional Stress Apr 14, 2016
- Dec 1, 2015 How to Handle Unwanted Romantic Advances From Industry Pros Dec 1, 2015
- Nov 11, 2015 Stop Calling It Rejection Nov 11, 2015
- Oct 7, 2015 5 Universal Mistakes I See Actors Make Oct 7, 2015
- Sep 29, 2015 The Unsung Heroes of Casting: Cori-Anne Greenhouse Sep 29, 2015
- Aug 31, 2015 Why Acting Is and Needs to Be Fun Aug 31, 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 12, 2015 Being a ‘Good’ Actor Isn’t Good Enough May 12, 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- Nov 28, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 3 Nov 28, 2014
- Nov 26, 2014 7 Steps Toward Better Headshots Nov 26, 2014
- Nov 12, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 2 Nov 12, 2014
- Nov 5, 2014 12 Steps to Consistently Brilliant Performances, Part 1 Nov 5, 2014
- Oct 13, 2014 Why Actors Must Take Care of Their Bodies Oct 13, 2014
- Oct 12, 2014 Getting Your ‘Look’ Right, Part 2: Matching Your Essence to Your Marketing Oct 12, 2014
- Oct 12, 2014 Getting Your ‘Look’ Right, Part 1: Identifying Your Essence Oct 12, 2014
- Oct 6, 2014 We Are Each Other’s Greatest Resource Oct 6, 2014
- Sep 29, 2014 An Ode to Actors Everywhere Sep 29, 2014
- Sep 23, 2014 A 4-Step Guide for Success in L.A., Part 2 Sep 23, 2014
- Sep 16, 2014 A 4-Step Guide for Success in L.A., Part 1 Sep 16, 2014
- Sep 9, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 3: 3 More Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Acting Class Sep 9, 2014
- Sep 2, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 2: 3 Things You Shouldn’t Tolerate in Acting Class Sep 2, 2014
- Aug 25, 2014 The Importance of Training, Part 1: Are You in Class for the Right Reasons? Aug 25, 2014
- Aug 18, 2014 The 6 (Often Thankless) Jobs in Commercial Casting Aug 18, 2014
- Aug 11, 2014 You Are Enough: Why You Need to Just Be Yourself in Commercial Auditions Aug 11, 2014