The Sacrifices We Make (Diet for Dreamers)

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“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.” (J M Barrie, Peter Pan)

When we devised the title of this series, our thoughts ran along these lines: to accomplish anything in life, we need proper nutrition, and to achieve certain goals we need certain foods. A bodybuilder needs extra protein, a runner needs more carbs, and someone wanting to lose weight needs … uh, less of everything that’s truly delicious! This last example seems unfair, doesn’t it? But until someone invents a pill that consumes excess fat, a dieter will have to stick to his or her diet — which means sacrificing desserts.

Anyone who’s trying to achieve great things also needs a special diet: Inspiration to feed the dreams, encouragement to foster the creativity; organization and strategy to make the most of time, talent and resources; and steadfast faith and a deep passion for the goal or dream, both of which can fuel a person all the way to the finish line — all the things we’ve discussed since we began this series.

And some dietary sacrifices will have to be made, and that’s never easy; which is why many people quit — or cheat too often and too much. Diets only work if we’re willing to stick with them. Although occasionally we do need to give in to a craving in order to keep our sanity, most of the time we have to resign ourselves to sacrificing the foods we love (in the case of a nutritional diet) or the activities we love (in the case of a dreamer’s diet).

Writers, artists, actors and musicians who achieve a level of virtuosity, entrepreneurs who exceed their goals, researchers and inventors who make great breakthroughs, visionaries who change the world, and even people who build solid marriages and raise well-adjusted kids, all do so because they stick to their diets … and that usually means sacrificing certain things.

We have friends who — during their spare time — watch tons of television, or play video games almost non-stop, or participate in any number of other leisure activities. These people are relaxing and doing what they enjoy most, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We, on the other hand, want to achieve our goals, so we need to make the most of our time. (Personally, we’re always working on our books, articles and stories.) We can’t walk away from our day jobs, family responsibilities, and social obligations; and we have to take time to eat, sleep and shower, so what’s left usually goes to pursuing our dreams.

In other words, we sacrifice our leisure time — and that’s tough. Well, we all know dieting isn’t easy, but if we want to fit into our pants or achieve our dreams, we resign ourselves to making sacrifices.

We used to teach adult Bible classes for both singles and married couples. We wanted to do this, and we wanted to make a difference in the lives of our students. We wanted to give our best efforts to this pursuit, and that meant hours of personal study and course outlining. We had other responsibilities on week nights after work, and all day on Sundays, so we had to devote our Saturdays (our only “day off”) to preparing for our weekly class. Hence, we had to sacrifice our only opportunity to read and relax, or go for a walk and have a picnic.

We won’t lie, sacrificing our down time continues to be a challenge; and sometimes, seeing others at play while we toil away at extra (and optional) tasks can be a little irritating. But we keep reminding ourselves that, if we are to accomplish something — any thing — worthwhile, we need to stay on our diets and continue to sacrifice activities that could ruin our progress.

Can you relate? Do you find yourself getting a little envious of people relaxing while you’re working, training, studying, tinkering, analyzing, researching, practicing, or honing? Remind yourself, if you’re pursuing a goal then you’re simply paying the price. You need a certain diet with built-in sacrifices. Stick to it, and stop begrudging the guy next door who’s playing Candy Crush all day long. Your diet and sacrifices will make you a lean mean dreaming machine, and someday you will achieve great things! And the guy next door? He’s happy with his diet of computer games, and perhaps someday he’ll be the best Candy Crush player in the neighborhood!

Pay the price today, so you can celebrate tomorrow. It’s the diet we choose for ourselves, and the sacrifices we make to succeed. “…I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8 Berean Study Bible) “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)

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Love and the Rejected Pilot (Encouragement for Creators)

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Sometimes a creator can have a great idea or produce a masterpiece, but still encounter rejection. Perhaps the timing isn’t right, or the wrong people are considering the material or, as in the case we’re about to share, the right people are considering your work but they just don’t get it or are too blind to see its merits. This is often true of television production. In fact, when it comes to programming for television, there’s often a good reason the TV is called the boob tube, and no, it’s not a reference to the viewers.

In 1970, successful comedy writer/producer Garry Marshall had a great idea for a new television series — at least, that’s what he thought at the time — about life and love in an innocent bygone time. Miller-Milkis Productions filmed a pilot for the new show, calling it New Family in Town. The parent studio, Paramount Pictures, was unimpressed, and the ABC network totally passed on the idea. No one at the time thought Garry Marshall would be able to sustain a comedy series so immersed in nostalgia for more than a season or two, at best; and besides, the decision-makers at ABC didn’t particularly care for the young man Miller-Milkis had cast as the lead. The idea for a series was shelved, and the network “burned off” the pilot episode as an installment of its anthology show Love, American Style, retitling the segment, somewhat ironically, “Love and the Television Set”! (Remember all those anthology shows that proliferated the airwaves from about 1954 through the early ’80s? Well, think Twilight Zone; except that during the last couple minutes of each episode of Love, American Style, instead of one of Rod Serling’s shocking twist endings, there’s just a lot of smooching and blushing.)

A year later, a pre-Star Wars George Lucas was casting American Graffiti, his humorous, uber-nostalgic film based on his experiences with fast cars and adolescence circa 1962. Lucas viewed Marshall’s unsold pilot and immediately decided to cast its star (what’s-his-name, the guy the ABC executives weren’t particularly impressed with) in the lead role of his new movie. When released in 1973, American Graffiti became an instant classic and proved itself to be box office gold! (So the actor, what’s-his-name, was vindicated. Yes, but that’s not our point here, nor is it the end of our story.)

Over at ABC, the suits were salivating. Legend has it that one of them remarked to an underling that the network should come up with a new nostalgic comedy to capitalize on the success of American Graffiti. “Run out and get someone to create a pilot,” he snapped.

The underling carefully told his boss that the network already had a pilot for just such a series: “And it even stars what’s-his-name from the movie!”

“Why haven’t I seen it, then?” barked his boss.

“But you did, your greatness!” [Okay, yes, we’re exaggerating here … a little.] “Don’t you remember? You shelved the project!”

We’re not sure if the poor underling kept his job, but ABC hurried the series into production, and a few months later, the ABC comedy Happy Days, starring Ron Howard, premiered in January 1974. The show was an immediate success and Creator Garry Marshall kept us laughing through 11 seasons. So much for being able to sustain a show about love set in the 1950s! Throughout the rest of the ’70s, the show was consistently ranked among the top 20 most-watched shows. Yes, it’s a silly sitcom, but if you were growing up around that time, you probably know how popular and influential it was. ABC spun off seven other series from Happy Days, two of which were also ratings successes. There also were books, comics, toys, and lunch boxes. (Now doesn’t every creator want to see his or her stuff plastered on a kid’s lunch box?!) And lest we forget, Happy Days is responsible for a few well-known idioms, such as “jumped the shark”!

From the 1970s sitcom Happy Days: (Right) Ron Howard as Ritchie Cunningham, with Ralph Winkler as “the Fonz.”

Moral of the above anecdote: Often, rejection is far from being the end of a creator’s journey! Wrong time, wrong place, wrong response; consider such things as just speed-bumps on the road to success!

Hey, speaking of love, St. Valentine’s Day is Friday. Come back and join us for “The Secret Origin of Valentine’s Day.”

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time. It hastens to the end and will not fail. If it should be slow in coming, wait for it, for it will surely come—it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3 TLV)

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