One of my closest friends just learned that the pilot he had been working on for the last six months or so just got the “green light” from the studio, which means, A) he is now going to get paid; and, B) he went from being a guy trying to break into television to officially wearing the mantle of “producer.” Of course, being a sensitive and reflective fellow, he immediately plummeted into a deep existential crevasse. I could sympathize. Once, having finally got myself a real New York agent, I broke out in the ugliest case of psoriasis I’d ever seen. My problem? What if he actually sold it? This was suddenly a very real dilemma. The thing I loved to do would now go from being a passion to a job.
But what really gave my friend the midnight shivers was that if you spend too much time thinking about something and believing that when it comes you will finally be happy, it’s arrival is going to bring you face-to-face with a bewildering truth: Nothing can make you happy. There is also its corollary, nothing can make you unhappy, but somehow the first is often more puzzling to us than the second.
This is why my friend’s crevasse was existential, and why all crevasses this deep are existential. There are no mountaintops. We all would like to plant our flags, I know, but to do so suggests that you are done. The things we call goals are directions and not destinations. Part of the fear my friend experienced was that he had perhaps not imagined his life beyond the moment of triumph. For a beat he was confronted with a precipice, for life, it appeared, did not stop at the moment of success.
You needn’t worry—my friend is fine. He’s a wise man and was caught a bit by surprise. But I believe the news of his pilot being green lighted was even better than he at first understood. Having crawled out of his crevasse, he may now, with a little luck, stop looking for a place to plant his flag and get on with the daily and very meaningful and beautiful business of doing the next most interesting thing.