As a frequent reader of inspirational sayings, I’m constantly amazed at how many people are able to convince themselves that not getting what they wanted is just what they needed. Who are these people who are always finding another door opening while the one in front of them is closing? I’ve smashed my foot in dozens of doors that I should have let close because I was convinced that another one would never open. That conviction is why it takes me years to get over my failures.
I stopped doing comedy in 2007 but it wasn’t until 2014 that I finally began to be grateful for everything I learned playing those horrible rooms around the country. Dying onstage at the Chucklehut in Bupkes, Nevada, or bombing at the Shangri-Laff in Goiter, Wyoming, taught me more about writing and speaking than anything I could learn in an MFA program. I just wish it hadn’t taken me seven years to finally stop beating myself up for all those nights of public failure.
When I discovered I was going to become a father at 23 I thought I was going to have to give up all the dreams I had carried with through my childhood. It wasn’t until my son was well into grade school that I realized how lucky I was to have this little person teaching me about the joy of commitment and the sense of composure that comes with humility. Why wasn’t I able to see that sooner? Why did I spend almost a decade berating myself for making a kid before I was ready?
A few minutes ago I was telling a friend that nothing I’m grateful for has come to me through my intellect or ability to reason. I’ve never been able to think myself into forgiving someone or reason my way out of anger. All the things I’m grateful for have come from not getting what I wanted. That’s probably not the best thing to bring up in a job interview or a first date but it’s something I think about a lot. It’s one of those things you can’t really accept until you’ve been through it. I can’t tell my son that one day he’ll be grateful he didn’t get the job he applied for. But I can make sure I’m around a few years down the road when he’s ready to talk about it. It’s one of those things that seems like complete nonsense until suddenly it isn’t. It’s good to not always get what you want. It just sucks that it doesn’t feel that way when the thing you desperately wanted is flying out the window.
And that’s the kind of story we’re looking for this month. Tell us about a time when you didn’t get what you wanted. How did it happen and what does it mean to you now? Are you glad you didn’t get it? Are you still upset about it now? What did you tell yourself then and what do you tell yourself now?
Make sure the story has a beginning, middle, and an end and that you can tell it in under 8 minutes. Remember to keep it clean, practice out loud as much as possible, and run it by friends if you can. Those are the best ways I know to tighten up a story and figure out where to make changes. And you can always call or write me if you need any help.
The show is October 18, at 7pm, at Roy Street Coffee and Tea.
Here are the rules and guidelines for telling a story if you haven’t seen them in a while.
See you on the 18th!