There have been days when you have woken up and thought: why am I doing this?

Days when you said to yourself: why am I doing this job, when it’s not what I really love?

photo: aowolf from Denver

photo: aowolf from Denver

Times when you have looked at your life and wondered: why am I in this relationship when it’s not what I truly dreamed of?

It’s easy to get buried in the details of life.

We have so many small deadlines to meet that we sometimes forget the Big Deadline; you know – the one we all have but don’t ever talk about.

I sometimes think those little deadlines are there only so we don’t have to think about the Big Deadline.

But it’s there. Waiting for us.

They're not that different from you,
are they? ... Did they wait until it 
was too late to make from their lives 
even one iota of what they were 
capable? Because, you see gentlemen,
these boys are now fertilizing 
daffodils. But if you listen real 
close, you can hear them whisper 
their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. 
Listen, you hear it? ... Carpe, 
carpe diem, seize the day boys, 
make your lives extraordinary! 

I think about this in the quiet moments. In my life, it has provided context.

It’s a frightening thing, to live as if we had only a limited time to live – so most of us live as if we have forever.

But we don’t.

“As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret 
are the things you didn’t do.” 

It’s truly exhilarating to see someone follow their heart, take that leap of faith. How many people put their heart on the line for love or risk everything – everything – for a long-held dream?

But when it’s us letting go … it’s terrifying, isn’t it?

Our minds tell us to pull back, urge us to caution.

But as Dicky Fox said in Jerry Maguire: If your heart is empty, then your head really doesn’t matter.

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, 
day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.  

It was pointed out to me recently that my latest novels are all about characters who step outside of everything they know to pursue something – or someone – they love.

They risk everything and don’t look back, no matter what it costs.

I don’t know why I picked up this cause to champion in my novels. When I write I hope of course to keep a reader turning pages; I want to move, to entertain. I certainly don’t think about changing the world.

But … if something I write might inspire someone to follow their heart over their head, I’ll take that.

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - 
real life.  But there was always some obstacle in the way.  
Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, 
time still to be served, a debt to be paid.  Then life would begin.
At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.  

It’s why I do what I do. I dream that one day someone will say: I read your book once and it changed everything for me. I believed in what you imagined so clearly it made me decide to live for the passion, and not for the math.

Some days it feels – to quote again from Jerry Maguire – like I am hanging on by a very thin thread.

But like Rod Tidwell said, I dig that about me.

And it’s what I dig about you too.

photo: Matt Yohe

photo: Matt Yohe

Remembering you are going to die
is the best way I know to avoid the trap 
of thinking you have something to lose. 
You are already naked. 
There is no reason not to follow 
your heart.

About colinfalconer

author of bestselling historical novels like Anastasia, When We Were Gods, Aztec and Harem. My books have been published in the UK, US and ANZ and translated into seventeen languages.
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15 Responses to LETTER TO A FRIEND

  1. This is one of the best blog posts I have ever read. Thank you, Colin.

  2. Reblogged this on Lizzi Tremayne, Writer and commented:
    Colin Falconer said it all in this fantastic blog post. Thank you, Colin!

  3. prue batten says:

    A perfect post. I lost my cousin suddenly on Boxing Day. He was a man who lived life as if today was his last. It was a huge lesson as one doesn’t want to end with regrets. I’m struggling so hard to finish the last two chapters of my latest but ‘life’ is out there. Take today – out the window the sky is blue to infinity. We live high on a hill and I can see far up into the Tasmanian midlands which are white with frost. A fog folds itself down the Derwent River – a perfect late autumn day. How can I stay inside and write? Simply put: I can’t. Cheers, Colin.

    • Thanks Prue. It’s true … I worked on an ambulance for man years – everyone assumes they have more time to do the things they want to do than they really have …

  4. filbio says:

    I saw myself in so many parts of this post. Why am I doing this job? What should I really be doing? Why don’t we just take that big chance? True – we are caught up in so many insignificant details and deadlines I think we sometimes forget to actually live.

    Great post again!

    • Thanks Phil. I think these small details we all get entangled with and make so important we just put there so we don’t have to sort the really big details that would make the real difference to us …

  5. Wow. Thank you, Colin. I have been struggling with my WIP, deciding if I just should stop writing it. Does that make me a quitter? I’m trying to figure it out. I’m not a scared person, but for some reason I feel petrified by both ideas. Moving forward (with major revisions) sounds as awful as stopping completely. I think I have to meditate on this a little bit more. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

    • Is it quitting or is it trying something different? It’s true, sometimes we persist with something because we’re afraid of the alternative. Perhaps it’s something we can only figure out by stopping and listening to ourselves. Thanks Renee.

  6. Hi Colin. Talk about life. That could be the reason I haven’t dropped by in a while. But what an interesting post today. It makes me ponder as to why the quest to make a difference in others lives is so important to us. For there are many who could care less about anyone else but themselves. I think love and passion, for whatever reason, gives us the motivation to give. If someone is in the possession of those said attributes, what good does it do to keep it to themselves? It really is a gift, is it not? It sounds like things are going well for you Colin. Take care! 🙂

  7. Eden says:

    Colin, thank you.

    Today or tomorrow or years from now… we can only choose how much life we live and how many wonderful memories we can give those we love…not memories of things we gave them, but memories of us living, being with them, sharing their lives–becoming the best gift we can give the world….


  8. Definitely says it all, Colin. Beautiful post!!

  9. After reading about a young man who died this week, I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot. Barely eighteen and I think that boy lived more in his short life than I have in mine. I would never change the whole mom thing…my kids will always matter to me more than anyone else on this earth. But in so many other ways I feel like life has moved on without me. And it’s reminders like this, and Zack Sobiech, that remind me to make every minute count. We never have as long as we think, and time passes so quickly once we get to be grownups.

    Thanks for another reminder that I need to get busy living. 🙂

  10. Pingback: Sunday Sampler for June 9, 2013 | shanjeniah

  11. susan reiss says:

    Your words come at just the right time. Thank you.

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