In the fall of 2011 I hung up from a bizarre phone call with my friend Ethan. It had been more than three years since we graduated college and our lives had taken completely opposite trajectories: He decided to follow his heart and save the world, but hadn’t been able to do much more than collect some money and signatures from the sidewalks outside of Trader Joes. I had decided to follow my passion of filmmaking, but hadn’t been able to make much of anything besides coffee for a few producers.
Ethan had decided to give up. Though he will never call it that. He went into a period of “searching for himself.” A journey that spanned several months (and at this point years) backpacking through several countries, trying all of their drugs, and ultimately never learning much more about himself than the fact that he was unhappy. And on that phone call, when he broke the news to me that he was leaving America indefinitely, he only asked me to come with him out of courtesy. He knew I wouldn’t even consider it.
Why would I? I had a well-paying job, working in the industry I loved, and was well on my way to becoming a hot shot reality TV producer. This was what ran through my head moments after I hung up the phone. I was comfortable. Though I wasn’t making the content I wanted to make, nor affecting the world for the better through my art, I was making something of my life – unlike my hippie friend. But I didn’t want that life.
I’ve always wanted to achieve two things in my life: to be an entertainer and to make the world a little better. At that moment I was doing neither. So the next day I decided to change that. I called my writing partner Eric, and the two of us started to conceptualize a project that we could create all on our own, that no commercial entity could bastardize, that would combine entertainment with an action call to change the world. Turns out that was a terrible idea for someone who was used to working only a 60-hour work week.
Over the last two and a half years my life has been a blur: I have gone without sleep enough to believe thoroughly that my life expectancy will pay the price. I have been broke more times than I care to admit. I have lived out of a backpack for months, slept in the trunk of a car and in a roadside ditch. I have hitchhiked thousands of miles and had the shit kicked out of me on multiple occasions.
From the minute I hung up that phone, my life changed forever. I decided to stop waiting for my life to happen, and start making my life whatever I want it to be. In a few weeks my show Wayward Nation will be released, which captures my journey. And when that day comes my life will finally begin.
By Mikey McManus
*Check out the teaser for WAYWARD NATION! The password to access is ‘jayjay’