Happiness Replay: Decide! The Universe will Make it Possible (from 01/02/13)


I have long been inspired by the following passage from W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition: 
”When I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth —  the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

As it turns out, this is true.  Once you make a decision to commit to something, “providence moves, too.”  I am seeing it right now with the overwhelming response from friends and family to my own commitment to this project, including guidance and assistance coming from the most unexpected corners.

In 2005, a friend and I wrote a short film and decided to make it.  You have to understand, neither of us had ever been involved in anything like this before – we had never produced anything, nor worked on anyone else’s indie productions, I had never directed a film.  It was crazy, and there is no reason we should have succeeded, but we did.  We actually never questioned that we would, and that’s probably why it happened.  Maybe ignorance is bliss, but the idea of stumbling headlong into a goal, not knowing that you have no business achieving that goal, can move mountains in ways you couldn’t have imagined possible.

You can see our little film here.

It’s okay, not great.  I’m still exceedingly proud of it.  Why?  Because it’s on a screen.  And that’s the other thing about success that we have to remember – it exists based on how we define it.  After a decade working in Hollywood, I have decided that anything on a screen is a success – no matter who sees it or how “good” it turns out.  Once you realize the mountain that has to be climbed to get any work to a screen – any screen (movie, TV, Internet, phone) – you can reward yourself for getting there.  And that’s one of the major keys to happiness – rewarding yourself.  It can be a small gift you’ve been wanting for a while, a Facebook post sharing your accomplishment with others, or simply taking a moment to stop making demands of yourself and enjoy what you’ve achieved.  If you skip the reward, what was the success for?

Personally, I view success as the distance between where we start and where we end up, and as long as you’re beyond the point where you started, you won!  And if you aren’t there yet, make a decision to do something about it.   I promise, like Mr. Murray above, that a whole stream of events will issue from the decision, raising in your favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which you could not have dreamt would happen.


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5 thoughts on “Happiness Replay: Decide! The Universe will Make it Possible (from 01/02/13)

  • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    In September of 2012, I made the decision to start a blog.

    It is my online magazine – it accepts everything I decide to write.

    It is also where I’m posting the novel Pride’s Children AS I polish it (and in some cases, completely rewrite it), one scene every Tuesday since Feb. of 2013.

    Every step has been foolhardy – and taken with joy and a little bit of fear. It turns out no one tells you ‘no’ – except yourself. You just decide what to do, and do it. On your own. Without parental supervision.

    I can’t publish my work for money before September of 2014 – long story – but I’m not ready yet, either, so it isn’t a big deal. If I can make myself a faster writer, the 3-volume work will all be finished this year. If not, Vol. I will be finished this year.

    And if I fall on my face, the only consequence will probably be intelligent sympathy.

    It doesn’t get any better than that. And I’ll have the dratted story out of my head, in ebook and on paper, and I can stop living in two universes at once (even though, as mainstream fiction, there is some overlap). All good.

    Congratulations on your film – that must feel so good. I’m off to see it when I finish posting.

    I also aim to do a radio play version of the play I wrote; finish the mystery – and the next in the series, and possibly one more; and finish a book of short stories. Heady, the freedom is. You just have to decide to do it, and then the steps start being obvious. Only the first one is mystical.

  • Valerie Alexander Post author

    Alicia, your comments always make me so happy! Glad you decided. I love the concept of a blog being an online magazine that can’t reject your work. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the film. Something tells me I’m going to owe you 20 minutes of your life back, but if not, yay!

    • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

      Enjoyed your cute movie – what did you make it for? Where has it been shown?

      All kinds of sarcasms and ironic commentary – I felt sorry for the older woman doctor.

      Making a movie – even a short one – is a huge step up from not having made a movie. Congratulations for your moxie.

      • Valerie Alexander Post author

        It was in the can for ten grand, then another couple thousand spent going to festivals before finding a home on Vimeo. I’m ambivalent about getting it to a larger audience. I’d prefer as a director to be known for things of a bit higher quality. This is my favorite thing to have directed:

        That cost less than a thousand dollars. It helps when everyone believes in it so much that they volunteer. Next goal — get paid to direct!