What Will You Do with the Rest of Your Life?

This week, an essay. Next week, a podcast. I’m editing my conversation with Daniel Coplan, a film producer, director, writer, editor, and actor who has made films that defy category. He calls them enlightenment noir. They are filled with Buddhas and action scenes. They have a sense of mystery that is hard to pin down. We talk about how, when Dan starts a new project, it has to be something that keeps him awake at night, how every film he makes splits into four films, and we dig into the best way to get started in Hollywood.

My call with Dan is coming next week for the next episode of On a Call With …

And now:


What Will You Do with the Rest of Your life?

You will always be dealing with this one person. Get a mirror. Look in it. That person. That's the one I'm talking about.

Obvious? This may seem like a non-revelation to you, but as the flag of time unfurls, your current distractions with other people will fall away, leaving only one person. Are you older than twenty-five right now? You have fewer friends now than you did back then. Are you between forty-five and fifty-five? Your friend count has peaked out. I'm talking about real world people, not social media friends. After age sixty, you start spending less time with co-workers, more time with your partner if you have one, less time with your kids if you have any. After that, you're spending more time alone. Just you and the person in the mirror. Here's the research. But check it out later, because I want to keep talking about you.

Spending time with your older self doesn't mean being unhappy. People in their twenties and thirties are depressed and anxious. Old people are happier. Being young is demanding. Older people are better at shrugging off life's stressors. Those happy old people are not moping around, though. They have spouses, stuff to do, a sense of mission, even when they are old and supposed to be smelling the roses or something. Smelling roses -- I guess that can be a mission of a sort, but I'd rather be writing about the roses than just going around smelling them.

The upshot of that friends-falling-away research is that you might as well start getting used to yourself now. Practice every day. Try to like the person you see looking back at you in the mirror. Get used to self-critiques but also telling the inner critic to get lost for a while. Find some happiness with the simple practice of trying to understand yourself. Do the things you really want to be doing.

This is where being a creator comes in. You write, you are understanding yourself with every word. As you paint, draw, photograph, record, you are understanding yourself, the world, the people you render in your work.

What you create doesn't have to be public. Journals work, sketchbooks, talking to yourself and recording it. Whatever it is, it's a good way to spend time with yourself. Making something is a good way to get to know yourself better.

Thanks for reading,

Lee


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