This is a photo of my son, Charlie, taken last Sunday.
This is a photo taken of the same spot exactly three days later.
It serves as a reminder for you (and perhaps for you) that change can happen a lot faster than we can sometimes imagine.
Earlier this week someone told me that she was "thinking about finally going to college."
I asked what she was thinking about? What was she considering? What was stopping her?
She told me that she just wasn't sure if she was ready. She wanted to "give it some time."
"What a terrible idea," I told her. "The worst idea."
Far too often, people stall their lives, imagining what they could be doing rather than doing it, failing to realize how quickly their lives could be different and better if they took action. Instead they linger on the worry. Focus on the hard stuff. Debate a decision when they already know the answer in their hearts.
In 2009 - just eight years ago - I had not published a book or spoken on the stage in my life. Nor did I think that either of these things would ever happen. But I wasn't waiting. I wasn't "thinking about it." I was constantly writing. And when given the chance, I took the stage and told my first story, despite my fear and uncertainty.
Today I have published four novels. Two more are on the way, along with my first YA novel and a instructional memoir on storytelling. I'm the humor columnist for Seasons magazine. I've written a rock opera and three musicals. I'm publishing two more essays in Parents magazine this summer.
Since 2011, I have told stories on hundreds of stages large and small. I've won 28 Moth StorySLAMs in 52 tries and four GrandSLAMs. I've traveled all over the country telling stories and spent two weeks in Brazil last summer teaching and performing. I teach storytelling and public speaking to individuals, corporations, school districts, and universities. I've taught storytelling at Yale University, The University of Connecticut Law School, Purdue University, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and many other places. Along with my wife, I founded Speak Up. We produce more than a dozen shows a year. Most of them are sold out. I've spoken at half a dozen TEDx conferences.
All this in just eight years.
And I'm not resting on my laurels. This year I plan to perform my first one-man show. I will try stand-up for the first time. I'll write my next screenplay. I'll begin my first book on teaching.
If another opportunity arises, I'll seize it.
I don't expect my life to be the same eight years from now. I'm not sure how it will change, but I expect it to change, because I know that change can happen quickly if you let it. If you jump in head first. Stop the calculation and consideration. Embrace the fact that your life can be different and better in what will seem like the blink of an eye if you allow it.
Don't be complacent. Don't settle. Don't mistake the life you have for the only life you can have. Change is a beautiful thing. You must fight for it everyday.