Hollywood’s favorite question is “What’s next?” An actor can be holding an Academy Award and it’s almost guaranteed an interviewer will at some point ask, “So, what’s next for you?” A writer can craft a great screenplay that garners her attention and it is assured that when she meets with an agent or manager she will be asked, “What else do you have? What’s next?” God help us if we cannot answer that question.
We live in a world where the anticipation of an experience is savored more than the experience itself. Hype is the fuel of our culture.
Tony Hale is a wonderful comedy actor best known for his neurotic character Buster Bluth on one of my favorite TV comedies Arrested Development. I have been fortunate to cross paths with him twice this past month. He performed at the Young Storytellers Biggest Show, a charity event where celebrities perform scripts written by fifth graders. He was also at the Austin Film Festival where I heard him speak. He talked about his life and his career. He spoke honestly about his struggles with anxiety and shared his experiences on Arrested Development and Veep.
He said something that stuck with me. He talked about how he got his dream job on Arrested Development and yet it really didn’t satisfy him the way he thought it would. He said, “Sometimes you have to wake yourself up a hundred times a day to where you are.” The next big thing isn’t out there somewhere. It’s already here. You’re in it. Wake yourself up. Be present. Stop worrying about what’s next.
I believe aspiration is a good thing. It makes us work harder, strive, persevere. But aspiration without reflection is chasing after the wind.
We can run and run and run and think I’m tired and I’m not even there yet. Or, we can run and run and run and think I’m tired, but I’m here and look how far I’ve come.
So I raise a glass to the yesterdays and todays, to the heres and nows. May our cups be full and our hearts appeased. Cheers.
A WRITER KEEPING THE FAITH IN LOS ANGELES