Have You Done That One Great Thing? NO? What Are You Waiting For?

Time passes so damn quickly. And as you get older, it speeds up so much that, if you don’t do something about it, your life will take place without including the person who’s buried deep inside you.

You know the person I mean. The dreamer. The bright, starry-eyed optimist who was once in charge of your body and soul.

I have wanted to be a writer since I was six years old. It was my father who first encouraged me. After reading a poem I wrote called “How Do I Know the World Is Real?” (Can you believe I can still remember it? Cripes, I can still recite it!), he told me I had a special talent. And that if I nurtured it, I could be a great writer some day.

How about you? What did you want to be… or do… when you were a child? And what kind of dreams have you had since?

Do you still have ambitions you haven’t achieved? Of course you do.

We all have dreams. And we’re all guilty of putting off those dreams.

In my case, fiction writing too often takes the back seat to other things. During the course of a normal workweek, I manage a half-dozen sizeable businesses, consult with a half-dozen more, write ETR, write business books, learn languages, and practice new skills. I’m no goof-off.

But I still regret every morning I don’t work on a novel or short story or screenplay or poem.

So be honest with yourself. Have you achieved all of your most cherished dreams? Are you even working toward them? Do you even remember what they were?

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]
  • Louise

    There’s a writing competition going on at the moment – the NaNoWriMo – which has been running for several years now. It’s started again this month and I have met many people in our NaNo get-togethers who have expressed a similar notion – that to be a writer was a long-held dream, and it’s something that’s faded with the realities of raising families and having careers. Maybe none of what we write will ever be published or widely read, but the common thread is that we appreciate the creative impulse and how it enriches our lives.

    All of the other things that we do can enrich our experience – even a short story or poem can help think of things from another perspective or structure a thought in subtle and telling way. It’s interesting to read this from you because you’re already an accomplished, published writer – you’re most certainly not a goof-off, but I don’t think you should regret the time that you’re not spending on creative writing. At least you’re aware that it’s something that you could be spending time on, and perhaps it can even be a ‘downtime’ hobby – not something that’s driven by productivity or quantity, but enjoyment of observing your surroundings and playing with the written word.

    This one touched a chord with me, and with a few other NaNoWriMo competitors here who I referred this on to – on behalf of them and me, thanks for this honest post.

  • Art

    Time has a way of passing at the speed of 60 seconds a minute, 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day… Is that really quick? Does it really speed up the older you get? Can you really do anything about it?
    Or is this opening line just a trap to catch a clap?

  • JF


    Out to “catch a clap” that opening line might be. A “trap?” Only in the sense that it identifies one that’s very real, the jaws of time closing around every one of us. Of course one can’t slow down OR speed up time. It is, yes, absolute. And that seems to be the point. It’s march forward is relentless. If you’re aren’t at least in step with it, you’re falling behind.

    However, anyone who’s had kids could say that yes indeed time does seem to speed up as you get older. Remember those summers between school years? They were packed with memories and seemed to last forever. I was sure then I had all the time in the world. Today, I’m watching my own kids grow up and it’s passing in the blink of an eye.

    The clock still works the same, the sun still appears to trace the same path across the sky. But what’s changed, perhaps, is a better sense that we really do get a limited chunk of time. And the older you get, the closer you get to those limits. Watch an hour glass sometime. The sand always falls at the same pace. But where it looks like nothing’s really happening at the start, it always appears to race right there at the end.