“If you’re searching for that one person who will change your life, look in the mirror.” – Roman Price
A friend called today, stressed and frazzled. She said, “It’s supposed to be summer, time to rest, relax, have fun … but I’m so far behind, I don’t know if I’ll ever get caught up.”
I shared an enduring memory from the movie One Day in the hopes it might give her some perspective.
Several years ago, my friend Matt and I were coming home after dropping my son Andrew off at BWI Airport (on his way to Burning Man). We took one look at the stopped cars on the Beltway outside DC and thought, “We can sit in traffic for a couple hours – or we could go see a movie.”
Hmmmm – what to do, what to do? Easy choice. Off to the movie we went.
If someone asked me to describe One Day, I would say, “It’s about the fickleness and fate of timing. It’s about not putting off what we really want to do for a someday that may never come.”
In this movie, two people meet cute at graduation. They’re on their way to a date when his parents show up early. This unexpected intervention turns these would-be soulmates into a same-day-next-year friendship.
The movie chronicles the ups and downs of the passing years as they “find themselves” and what they’re looking for (or not). One becomes romatically interested in the other, only to discover the other is in relationship. Their life is a series of missed connections.
My friend Mary Loverde, author of “I Used to Have a Handle on Life But It Broke,” says, “All life is a connection bid.”
She believes the health of any relationship depends on the success of its connection bids.
Connection bids are when we reach out to someone in an attempt to close the gap between us. It’s a way of saying, “We’re one, not two.”
A connection bid can be as simple as asking, “How was your day?”
It can be as mundane as, “Want me to pick up a cup of coffee for you while I’m out?”
It can be as easy as greeting someone when they come home or walk into the office.
If the person you’re reaching out to acknowledges you and responds positively – you’ve connected.
If they ignore you – or turn down your offer – you feel disconnected.
Yet as that movie showed; many of us are so busy we don’t even recognize connection bids when they come our way. We don’t realize that what we really want is often right here, right now, right in front of us.
When I saw that movie, I thought of all the times my sons had offered to help and I had turned them down.
I would be taking groceries in from the car and Andrew would say, “Want me to do that?” I’d say, “No thanks, hon, I’ve got it without even realizing I was shutting him down.
I’d be working late into the night on a manuscript and Tom would ask, “Want some water?” I’d say, “Thanks, but I’m still working on this one.”
Arrghh. They had reached out and I hadn’t reached back. I had dropped the connection ball.
Thank heaven we have a good relationship but I wish I could go back and say “YES, I’d like some help. YES,that would be wonderful if you did this. YES, I’d like some water. Thank you for offering.”
There’s a different version of this “disconnection” that unfolded in one of the most poignant interviews I’ve ever seen. Journalist Rita Braver interviewed Steve Martin on CBS Sunday Morning. Steve is a genius, yet based on their discussion, he wasn’t a very happy man at the time.
Rita started with questions about the evolution of his career, starting from when he was the #1 comedian in the world. (Remember the arrow in the head and “A wild and crazy guy” “Excuuse Mee?!”)
He frequently appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, Saturday Night Live and had top-selling comedy albums. Yet he walked away from being a comedian because, as he told Rita, he felt he couldn’t “top himself.” The pressure of being funny all the time became too much.
So, he transitioned into acting in popular movies including Parenthood, The Jerk, wrote books and plays (Shopgirl and Picasso at the Lapin Agile ), hosted the Emmys and won Grammys.
Yet, the entire time, Steve was fraught with anxiety. He confessed that he never really felt successful or that he had “arrived.” He was always onto the next new thing.
Toward the end of the interview, Rita looked at Steve almost tenderly and asked, almost as if to reassure or comfort him, “So, it’s really turned out okay, hasn’t it?”
Martin paused, shrugged and said, “If only someone had told me that 30 years ago, I could have relaxed and enjoyed it.”
Wow. The poignancy of his remark – and his regret – have stayed with me for years.
See, for Steve, the jury had always been out. The pressure of trying to please, trying to prove, kept him in a constant state of disconnection and dissatisfaction.
From the outside, he was an incredible succes, yet in his mind, there was relentless pressure.
It seemed he never stopped, looked around, and realized he had a good life right there and then that deserved to be apreciated.
So, to bring this message home, are you caught up in a never-ending chase to please, to prove?
Could it be you already have a good life right here and now that deserves to be appreciated?
Are there people reaching out to you; waiting for you to reach back?
Are there wonders all around, waiting to be noticed?
Complete the connection bid. Reach back. Relax into your day.
It’s not too late to change, for things to be different.
Choose to be blessed instead of stressed.
Instead of rushing to get somewhere else, to achieve something else, enjoy where you are, right here, right now.
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Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of The Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker, helps people create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her books have been featured in NY Times, on NPR, and presented to NASA, Boeing, Intel, Cisco, National Geographic, YPO, Accenture, Nationwide, Capital One, and Ernst Young.