Act Three:
Your Greater Opportunity

GreaterOpportunity Act Three: <br />Your Greater Opportunity

In the Third Act of a movie, the hero comes back from his lowest. In screenwriting we call this lowest moment the “all is lost” or “the moment closest to death.” It denotes the moment, at the end of Act Two, when the protagonist has been bested, it seems, by his enemies and by circumstance. He’s fought the good fight and lost.

Any good life has low moments like these.  They’re the moments that make us. The moments that force us to dig deep and find depths of character that we may not even know we have. But necessity is the mother of invention, no?

When push comes to shove and the rubber meets the road, we find out what we’re really made of — or what we’re really made of now, after we’ve stretched and grown into a mature and powerful version of ourselves. It’s the work of adulthood to take shape, to become, to take the raw material of our fate and make from it a destiny.

Act Two is where we become an adult. It’s where life shows us what it’s really made of, so that we can find out what we are made from.

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Tabitha Simmons x TOMS

 

TOMS shoes has teamed up with haute shoe designer Tabitha Simmons to make a TOMS shoe that’s both classic and edgy, as befits a Tabitha Simmons shoe.

I love social entrepreneurialism. Brands like TOMS. FEED Projects and Warby Parker, and business leaders like Virgin’s Richard Branson, and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, whose The Giving Pledge proves that they just “get it”, have proven that you can do well and also do good.

When I was coming out of law school, my choices within the legal profession were pretty stark. Either I went to a big corporate law firm and raked in the dough, or I entered into the not-for-profit arena of human rights. I wasn’t very money-driven at the time — my mistake; turns out money comes  in pretty handy when you’re making a life — but I still found those set of options too limiting. I wanted to make change in the world, but I didn’t want to do it in the small corners that traditional change-makers managed to carve out. I wanted the whole world to be infused with purpose, meaning and possibility, and not just the little bits and bobs. These days a lot of other people want that too, and that is changing our business and social landscapes one little action at a time.

But I digress. I wanted you to see the video above of Tabitha Simmons talking about her collaboration with TOMS and her experience going on a mission to deliver TOMS shoes to children in need. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it inspires you to do a little good today and all the days to come.

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What I Mean By
“Living The Life We Came For”

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There’s a phrase that pops up a lot when I’m blogging, “living the life we came for,” which reeks, I know, of “destiny” and  ”fate,” terms I think are often misunderstood. So, I’m taking this moment to define those terms and to talk a bit about what I mean when I speak of living the life we came for.

Our destiny, quite simply, is the highest possibility that exists for our lives. It’s who we might become given the unique set of talents, attributes and experiences that we have at our disposal this lifetime.

Our fate, on the other hand, consists of all the things that happen to us along the way, both our trials and our triumphs, our good fortune and our bad.

Our fate, if we let it, can become our lives. We suffer a loss, for example, and it defeats us, or we set out on a safe but inauthentic path and we stick to it, because it’s lucrative or we’re successful or we don’t know what else to do. Or, if we choose, our fate can become the raw ingredients from which we cook up real and authentic and meaningful lives.

This doesn’t mean you can have any old life you want. We can’t be or do anything (and we’d be wise to stop telling our children that they can). I, for example, couldn’t be Adele if I wanted to. I simply don’t have the singing chops, nor do I have the one of a kind combination of ingredients that make Adele Adele. What I can do, though, and what we all can do and teach our children to do is pursue our own singular lives with a measure of the passion, commitment and drive she’s shown in the pursuit of hers.

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Philip

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There are no words. I have no words. I speak anyway. First in a borrowed tongue. The words (word) of Questlove on Twitter… Just “Philip.” Jim Carrey’s beautiful, beautiful send up (send off)… “Dear Philip, a beautiful beautiful soul. For the most sensitive among us the noise can be too much. Bless your heart. ;^{.”

I was (am) heartbroken by the death of the great and luminous Philip Seymour Hoffman, who pulled up the greatest beauty from the depth of his soul.

I read a quote last week from Nietzsche that I’d somehow overlooked: “We have art in order not to die of the truth.” Well, the truth descended yesterday morning.

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What Kind Of Badass Are You?

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I had an interesting experience earlier this week. I read a TV pilot I’d written for reasons still not fully understood — I’m not a TV writer and don’t truly aspire to be (but more about that downstream). When I was done, I got up from my chair and thought “meh.” It was “okay“. It was “good enough.” With some time and rewrite work, it could be better, maybe even sellable,  though the odds of selling any TV pilot, even for an established TV writer, which I am not, are quite slim. I could invest the time in my long shot mediocre pilot, or I could invest my time in the things I’m really good at and that seems to suit my life right now: writing a novel (my first) and exploring ways to get more involved in making a better world. These are my passions, really, writing and change-making, and TV isn’t really the place for that. At least not for me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m really good at and passionate about. I’ve started a novel and I’ve begun to explore ways that I can make a difference in the world. I am retooling myself as a writer and change maker and am still sussing out what that means. What I know, though, is that I’m good at writing prose and that I love it in a way that I never loved writing  screenplays, even in my heyday, and that I certainly don’t love writing TV.

The “meh” TV pilot was the third script of mine that I’d read in recent months. The other two were screenplays for feature films, one of which had gotten me a lot of attention and been developed with some hot shot producers. My reaction to both of those screenplays was also “meh.” Both had their merits, both were arguably better than a good chunk of what’s floating around, but they weren’t amazing feats of artistry either.

Oddly enough, I don’t feel bad about any of this. I think I’m a good screenwriter. I don’t think I’ll ever be a great one, in part because I don’t really want to be, but also because I think my natural talents, my true greatness, such as it is, lies somewhere else.

I think I’m a natural novelist. I have no illusions that it will be easy and expect to write trillions of drafts before I have a great novel, but I do believe I have a great novel or two in me. If I applied the same energy to a screenplay, I don’t think it would be half as good, and I know it wouldn’t be half as satisfying. I am philosophical in nature and a little overwrought. I’m interested in themes, and excited about the controlled meanderings and internal exploration that literary fiction allows. I also know how to structure things well, thanks to my background in film. Writing this novel I’ve begun is a joy, whereas just thinking about reworking on of my screenplays or pilot makes me blah. I’m full of ideas and I want to put them on the page in a way that you can only do with fiction or essay. I also want to connect my ideas with the world. I want to use my sharp mind and my big heart to contribute to the conversation that’s happening everywhere you look these days about how we can make a better world. The question of how I can get a movie made pales in comparison and, honestly, knowing what it requires, it just isn’t worth it to me unless it arises organically from the passion projects I’m committing myself to. I can’t keep chasing that film crack, because a film badass is not the sort of badass I am.

It’s a good question: “What sort of badass are you? I don’t mean what have you succeed at. I have enough super successful friends to know that success that’s divorced from some sense of meaning or calling can feel empty, even if it does keep fear at bay. I mean, who are you really? What have you come here to do? What is the true best use of your considerable talents and gifts.

I think of it the way I think about ingredients for a recipe. There are a lot of things you can do with cauliflower, so knowing that you’re a cauliflower (or a lawyer, or a evolutionary anthropologist, or a writer) doesn’t really tell you very much. That’s just an ingredient with which you could do many different things. The kind of badass you are will determine what you cook up with the ingredients you have.

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