Over the past few months now, I have been actively pitching my various film projects to agents, managers and producers. These people are - for the most part - in LA, so I've been pitching to them over Skype since I'm in Boston. Some of these pitches have gone well (the person liked the pitch/wanted to read the script) and some of the pitches haven't gone so well (the person had absolutely no interest in the script).
For the pitches that didn't go well, I constantly found myself unable to shake that horrible "coulda, shoulda, woulda" mindset. Maybe I SHOULDA pitched another one of my projects - he was probably looking for a drama, not a comedy! Maybe I COULDA focused more on my accolades - man, I forgot to mention that script I wrote that placed well in that contest! Maybe I was too nervous-looking. Maybe I wasn't enthusiastic enough. Maybe if I changed my shirt. Or maybe if I wore boxers, not briefs. Yes, if I only I had done such and such, I WOULDA had better luck getting my script read!
I don't know about you, but this "could, shoulda, woulda" frame of mind has been something I've been struggling with a lot lately, especially when it comes to certain choices I've made regarding my writing 'career' (sorry, 'career' is such a lame word). Part of me acknowledges the fact that this mindset is pure negativity; it is an indication of me being hung up with something that happened in the past and my failure to exist in the present. But another part of me keeps on saying "coulda, shoulda, woulda...coulda, shoulda, woulda..." over and over again like some neurotic demon is inside my head. Obviously the only thing one can do is shake this terrible mindset - because you can't go back in time and change the past - but that's easier said than done.
Earlier tonight, I was watching the show "Long Island Medium" on TLC. It was actually a day-long marathon of the series but I only watched the tail-end of one particular episode. There was a man being 'read' by the medium and his situation was very relevant to mine, only much more serious. A few years ago, this man's five-year-old son had been taking a bath one night and his father left him alone for a minute while he tended to some business in the master bedroom adjacent to the bathroom. While alone in the tub, his son suffered some sort of brain convulsion that caused him to pass right out and he consequently drowned in the tub. His father found him unconscious and tried to revive him but he was too late; his son was dead. Of course, this man was devastated by his son's death and always blamed himself for what happened. If only he COULDA stayed in the room. Maybe he SHOULDA checked on him sooner. If he was more responsible his son WOULDA been alive.
Anyway, during the psychic reading, the medium (Theresa Caputo) said that the man's son was "coming through" strongly and wanted to tell his dad to stop blaming himself for what happened. It wasn't his fault. He had to let go of the blame. There was nothing he could do to change what happened in the past.
Again, this man's situation was much more difficult to deal with than my own, but the struggle is similar and it made me realize that wrestling with the "coulda, shoulda, woulda" frame of mind is a very common, universal challenge for all people, although the situations that create the mindset come in all shapes and forms.
The bottom line is that there is no sense or purpose to living in the past and there's never any good that comes out of it. Maybe we SHOULD have done something different, but that's irrelevant now. We have to let go and move on, no matter how difficult that may be. The "shoulda, coulda, woulda" mindset is a demon inside of us that we must learn to overcome. Only until we learn how to transcend this mindset and live life unaffected by the past are we able to live the fullest, most uninhibited life in the present.