If Not Now, When?

There are two types of people in this world. Those that are confident in their assertions and – well, there could be more than two types, right? I mean, how could I even say there are only just two types? 7.5 billion people and only two types?

When talking about types, what does that even mean pertaining to people? As if a person can be summed up, calculated like division and multiplication and then understood completely. There are days – perhaps weeks, or months – where I feel like a type of person or rather robot. Work, eat, eat, eat, work, eat, sleep, repeat (I am working on cutting back on the eating part).

Wall-E, the classic and perfect (THAT’S RIGHT, PERFECT) movie, has a lot to say on this. Wall-E, a robot, teaches humans from his pure love of E.V.E. how to be human. The human captain yells at the real robot captain thing-a-ma-jig that he doesn’t want to survive anymore, that he wants to live! In that moment, my fist always involuntarily raises in triumph – as I lay on the couch, eating buttery popcorn and my fourth (really, sixth) piece of pizza.

Where is the disconnect? I am inspired, moved by stories of great achievement to try to achieve my own. Yet even as I write this, I am stifled by fear. I want to write a short film but I want it to be good. Not just good, I want it to be seen by all and loved by all – by first draft. I have these immense expectations for myself that everything I write has the Midas touch. By paragraph three, my mind wanders and the wrath of the Writing Demagogue manifests. His malevolent whispers slip in through my ears.

“Your characters are flat and one dimensional.”
“No one would really do that.”
“How would they get away with that? You need at least three more chapters explaining how that works.”
“That sounds so pretentious.”
“You should stop writing and draw what a Writing Demagogue looks like.”

He wins again. Dammit.

The Writing Demagogue is ruthless and poignant with his critiques. His buddies often show up when I try other tasks. Want to work out? Netflix-ogogue shows up. Want to eat better? Donut-ogogue makes an appearance.  How can one combat such tact creatures? Their ultimate purpose is to keep us from our dreams, to limit us to a type of person rather than an individual with dreams and ambitions.  To keep us just surviving.

The musical Hamilton, written by the wonderful Lin-Manuel Miranda, has been my most recent source of inspiration. There is a line sung by George Washington that reads,

It’s alright, you want to fight, you’ve got a hunger
I was just like you when I was younger
Head full of fantasies of dyin’ like a martyr?
Dying is easy, young man. Living is harder.

Are we going to live or just survive? Are we just going to throw away our lives? There’s a Hebrew saying that has stuck with me as of late: If not now, when?

If we are not going to live now, when are we?


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