As you are undoubtedly aware, last night was David Letterman’s final show, capping off an amazing and groundbreaking 30 year run.
My favorite line in his last monologue was this: “I’ll be honest with you: it’s beginning to look like I won’t get the ‘Tonight Show.’”
Of course it’s funny, but for me it’s also deeply profound.
Over the years I’ve had any number of things I convinced myself I wanted, deserved, even felt entitled to.
It’s a long list of dreams, desires, people and stuff to be acquired. My inner dialogue told me that if I had them I’d finally be okay. I would be seen as successful. Admired. Loved. Worthy. Valuable. Perhaps even indispensable.
The big house. The cool car. The fancy office. A pile of money.
Maybe I’d even be CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
I’d be the perfect father, married forever, with oodles of friends who looked to me for advice, a soft shoulder to cry on in times of trouble and the perfectly timed witty comment to provide a needed laugh.
Oh, and I’d have abs. Really nice abs. Like, the cover of Men’s Fitness abs.
I’ll be honest with you, it’s beginning to look like I won’t get the Tonight Show either.
But for me, after much to-ing and fro-ing, after crashing and burning, often in spectacular fashion, I started to see that once I let go of the superficial, a world of possibilities opened up. There was beauty in my failures and grace in becoming vulnerable.
I began to realize that the goal wasn’t to stay busy, no matter how many times I got asked if I was. I got to see and appreciate the gifts of imperfection. I started to see that the old adage of “he who dies with the most toys wins” not only is ridiculous, it doesn’t even make any sense. After all, what would I win exactly? More toys? That totally seems like overkill.
A lot of people told Dave that getting the Tonight Show was THE thing. But he never did. And it turns out his destiny was to do something that in many ways was similar, yet ultimately quite different and truly remarkable.
I’m not sure what my ultimate destiny will be, but I now know for sure that it is going to be a lot different from what I originally envisioned.
And it’s not only okay, it’s pretty darn great.