Last night, I dreamed that I was on Saturday Night Live.
To be absolutely clear, let me emphasize by using a little bit of what we in the business call "italics" (or italics):
I dreamed I was on Saturday Night Live.
My wife Sarah's whole family are lucid dreamers. I'm terribly jealous. Most nights, I can barely recall my dreams, let alone rewrite them on the fly.
But this one stayed with me.
In my dream, I had been a member of the cast of SNL sometime in the mid-Nineties. Briefly. Very briefly. To be specific, for one disastrous episode. After which I was fired.
In my dream, I was making a living washing dishes. reliving that one opportunity and how I'd blown it, every day of my life, wondering how I could have made things turn out differently.
Now, clearly, the book I'm currently reading - Live From New York, which is of course a history of SNL - is partly to blame.
But just as clearly, my subconscious is trying to tell me something:
Stephen! Don't be a used-to!
A used-to is different from a has-been; a has-been was "somebody" and now they aren't. Really, there shouldn't be any shame in that, and if our culture wasn't so rampagingly warped by the cult of celebrity, there wouldn't be.
I'm not a has-been I was never a "somebody." Not even in the very small pool of independent comics. But I was a creator. A writer. I wrote. I'm a used-to.
My subconscious doesn't want me to look in the mirror, and say to myself, "I coulda been a contendah." It wants me to be a contender. It wants me to get Back From Erstwhile.
This has not been an easy journey, so far. 2006 was a horrible year for me on so many fronts. I was hammered by bad news, by poor health, by turmoil internal and external to my life. My unsuccessful attempt at National Novel Writing Month, for instance, was bold, but probably naive. I spent most of November fighting a virus that I'm only now starting to shake off.
But a New Year is traditionally a time to re-focus and approach new goals, or old ones with new resolve.
I am going to continue to get back from erstwhile. I am going to write, not be a used-to. I will not be the guy who got fired after one ill-fated night after being cast to replace Chris Farley and then had to wash dishes for the rest of his life.
Time to renew, re-focus, and resolve.
Happy New Year.