“While you were waiting around for something to happen, that was it. Life. You lived it."
That quote comes from the movie Tree of Life, which I watched just a few months ago while trapped on a 10-hour flight to meet up with two of my best friends from college in SE Asia. In the movie, Brad Pitt plays the disillusioned father of a 1950s American family who appears shattered and depressed by the way his life has turned out. Though it’s not often that you see Brad Pitt as a broken man, he confides to his son that he has been nothing more than a passive bystander in his life’s narrative. Events transpired, he accepted them, and by the time he picked his head up at the end of it all to reflect, he realized that it was all over.
I’m sure that he never intended to spend his short time on Earth burying himself in work for a company he didn’t like, set out to avoid his family, or purposefully ignore the beauty of the world around him. But he never made an active decision to build the life that he wanted or to spend time on the things most important to him. Perhaps he consoled himself with the thought that one day things would be different. The status quo continued on, and eventually he just ran out of time.
When I look at myself now, I find it hard to believe that I am already 24 years old, or that I’ve been in the working world now for over 2 years. I know that may not seem all that old to some people, but after graduating from college the weeks and months have blown by faster than I ever could have imagined. I’ve come to realize that the only opponent we have in all of this is time. And as much as we would like, we cannot slow it down or even stop it for an instant.
To me, it’s a reminder that you have to spend your life doing exactly what you’ve dreamed of. And if you’re not happy with how things are going you’ve got to make a change. Hesitation just means that the big questions will be answered for you, because a failure to act ensures that things will carry on exactly as they have been. It means being bold, acting decisively, and refusing to compromise with circumstances that you find unacceptable. The only option is to live the life that you’ve imagined, and to pursue it with all of your heart.