Borrowed Time

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go hear comedian Eddie Izzard speak about his new memoir, “Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens.” Eddie has long been one of my comedy idols, and he didn’t disappoint. The show was a mix of storytelling, hilarious side tangents, and of course… a simply stunning outfit. (Because it’s Eddie.)

I loved every part of the show — but I was particularly touched by one anecdote that Eddie shared. It came from when he was just starting out in his career and getting ready to debut his first one-man show. He said that he was incredibly nervous … terrified, really… and needed some help. He decided right then and there that he would “borrow courage” from his 50 year-old self. He was positive that in the future, his older self would have figured out how to get over things like stage fright, nervousness, and crippling self-doubt — so why not borrow a bit of that assurance? And then he wouldn’t need to give it back, because it was his. He would grow into that person anyway — so it was just fine to use and keep using. My friend, Amy, and I were at the show together – and the moment he told that story, we both turned to each other and at the same time, whispered the word magic.

From that point forward, Eddie embodied someone that had the level of courage he imagined his older, successful self having … and it worked. Now he is an international superstar of comedy who has done his shows in 4 different languages — soon to be 5, an accomplished television and movie actor, and now a published author. And it all started when he made the choice to embody who he would become.

He never had to return the courage. It already belonged to him.

Since hearing that story, I have been wanting to work that kind of time magic in reverse — reaching back to a time in my life when I felt more of a sense of wonder and optimism. I want to borrow the joy my younger self felt when she first discovered a new experience or came up with a wacky, hare-brained scheme. I want to experience the surprise and intense satisfaction she felt when actually made one of those impossible hare-brained schemes happen. For a while now, I have been in a hard space where I feel like my edges are dulled and my world is gray and not filled with much in the way of hope. That’s not where I want to live. I want to reclaim the brightness, enthusiasm, and free-spiritedness that my younger self felt without second-guessing herself.

If I imagine or believe that time is malleable, and lives are woven together like threads on a loom rather than rigid, unbroken lines – then I also believe this kind of magic is available to me. The power of my past can be the power of my present can be the power of my future. Because it’s there all the time for the asking. Perhaps Eddie had it slightly wrong in that he didn’t “borrow courage” from a future self, but rather accessed what was already there. Who knows? All I know is that it worked and is continuing to work – and that level of conviction and “acting as if” is a perfectly valid magical act.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have some hare-brained scheming to do, and impossible things to pull off. I’ll see you in the past.

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