Shadows of Stories Unwritten

This is a guest post by Chris Brogan of []. (Julien will be back tomorrow.)

You have a finite amount of time on this planet. You have multitudes of ways to spend it. It’s up to you. Think about all the decisions you have to make.

After you wake, you pee and wash up. It’s breakfast, the first real decision of the day. Do you eat a bowl of cereal because it’s easy or do you go find a delicious-but-time-consuming meal somewhere out and about in the city? Do you create something healthy or do you eat leftovers? You will make this decision almost 400 times in this year alone.

Will you commute to some office? How far away is it? How long do you sit in traffic? What do you do with the traffic? Do you even like the job? Does it pay enough? Are you feeling satisfied by the work? If there’s a no somewhere in the last three questions, why are you doing it? Most people’s answer: because I have to, and/or because I’m waiting for something better.

Waiting. Time is rushing by like a storm and you’re waiting. How long will you live? 80 years? If you’re lucky, 80 is a great and long life for many. A friend of a friend just fell dead in her sleep. She wasn’t even 40. Nothing particularly wrong. She just died. One of those diseases no one has and you never see on a bumper sticker ribbon.

Our lives are filled with the shadows of stories unwritten. Our lives are filled with waiting and hoping and putting off and stuffing the cracks with papers from other people’s lives.

If you KNEW without a doubt that your decisions were the measure of who you are – and make no doubt that they are – are you PROUD of your decisions? Are you living the story you want to live?

And what will you do with tomorrow that you haven’t done with today? What lighthouse will you point yourself towards? And what flag will you fly?

Live now. Don’t wait. And fill in some of those shadows with stories you’d want to see written about you.





20 responses to “Shadows of Stories Unwritten”

  1. Marjorie Avatar

    A beautiful post and sentiment. There’s a reason we still say Carpe Diem even though Latin is a dead language.

    I would add that in addition to making sure you are moving in the direction you want, make sure you aren’t running over people in your wake. Don’t live a life that will leave you with regrets. Reconcile your differences, understand those around you or respect the differences that exist between you. Don’t carry a bag of sour apples around wherever you go.

  2. John McLachlan Avatar

    Chris, great advice.

    I’m 50 (over the hill, and I see that in a good way) and am in the process of having a house designed and then built on an island off the coast of British Columbia where my partner and I will move within two years. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years and am acting on it now.

    Funerals are usually very sad and difficult, but they also are wonderful lessons for us. We so often forget our time is limited and we need to remember it each and ever day. Your friend dying in her sleep and she was under 40 is one of those lessons. Not doing something different with our own lives when things like that happen is just crazy.

    Here’s to being aware and making changes.

  3. Cynthia Fox-Giddens Avatar

    Great post and so on point. I have asked myself some of those same questions in the post. Life is too short to continue settling. I enjoy Mr. Brogan’s positivity.

  4. Stanford @ Avatar

    “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself”

    This post really helps bring the daily details into focus. Am I living on purpose or just going through the motions.

    Excellent way to start off the week

  5. Joe Sorge Avatar

    Great God, what has gotten into you Mr. Brogan. This is, once again, another phenomenally inspirational and motivational post. Thank you, thank you for all that you and Julien do.

  6. Joel | Blog Of Impossible Things Avatar

    I saw your review of One Million Miles by Donald Miller and I completely agree with that [and this] post.

    Stop waiting and start living the life you want to be living today. Write a better story now, and do something impossible.


  7. John McLachlan Avatar

    Kumbaya, Kumbaya.

    🙂 Just kidding. This post is very poetic and I agree with Joe that I appreciate these inspirational posts that Chris and Julien write.

  8. Amber Cleveland Avatar

    It’s been exactly 1 year today since I lost a dear friend. He was 32. He had 2 small children. You’d think that I wouldn’t have needed this reminder. But I did. Keep reminding people because every day someone new needs to hear it. Pass it along….Btw, one of my food choices was just influenced by you…need to treat myself better. Thanks my friend, I am so grateful for you.

  9. Beth Avatar

    Wow. This post hit me right in the face. This is the reason I’ve created my own business and am pushing myself to move forward with it – even when it seems incredibly difficult. I hated my day job and realized that if I learned I was going to die, there’s no way I’d want to be doing that when I went.

    Thanks, Chris. Reminders like this are moving and so important.

  10. Lindsey Simpson Avatar

    I think it is incredibly hard to disagree with the sentiments included in your post. Obviously, I would love to live my life without ever waiting but truth be told, I think a certain amount of waiting is healthy. I am not saying that staying at a job you hate for 10 years is OK, but I do think that it is the waiting that makes us realize what we really do want life. It makes us stop to evaluate what is having a negative effect of us so we can weed that aspect out of our lives but also, we begin to appreciate what is positive in our existence which gives us the knowledge to start incorporating more of that thing into our lives on a daily basis – whether that be leftover, a healthy smoothie or a change of employment.

  11. Sonia Simone Avatar

    Great stuff, Chris.

    For me it goes back to that silly cliché, you’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else with theirs. So few of us treat ourselves as something worth maintaining, caring for, spending a few extra minutes on.

  12. Kev Kaye Avatar


    You’re being quite prolific lately and I like it. It seems you’re posting what people need to help themselves opposed to what will help your business. That says a lot about someone, and I appreciate it.

    Thank You,

  13. Jason Berek-Lewis Avatar

    Thank you Chris for this wonderful, wonderful post. It is so easy to have life act on you, to have life make decisions for you. I am doing that right now, working somewhere that I don’t love, just to pay the bills.

    But, I CHOSE to work here. Yes, I do have to work and after being unemployed for 3 months I needed to get back into the workforce, but I did still chose to work where I do.

    I could CHOOSE to work elsewhere, or even to work for myself (my ambition) – but fear is a big motivator in my life and I am letting it write my story for me! ACK!

    You are not the first person to speak to me about writing my own story… Time to get to it!

  14. zane aveton Avatar

    Get busy living, or get busy dying. ~Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

  15. Brett Allen Avatar
    Brett Allen

    Awesome post! Very inspirational… what am I doing with my life? Here’s a better question, can mediocrity be the dream life? Maybe tomorrow I’ll get up, eat my cereal and then, do something different.

  16. Judy Helfand Avatar

    I don’t know about anyone else, but in my life a good year consists of 365+/- days. How come you get to decide about what to eat for breakfast 400 times per year?
    Seriously, I read your words and I took a quick inventory of my resume. You know what? Since my first job I can honestly say I enjoyed every position along the way. And when I reached a point of “mutual uselessness”, I recognized it and started writing the next chapter.

    I have had a lot of fun along the way and have so many stories!

  17. […] leading or following? Are you fleeing or climbing?” Two days later, pro-blogger Chris Brogan wrote in a guest post: “Our lives are filled with the shadows of stories unwritten. Our lives are filled with […]

  18. Robyn Avatar

    Love this post Chris. I’ve been focused on the story I want to write but not what’s unwritten. There’s a letter I need to write, blog posts I’ve been putting off and the list goes on. Thanks for the reminder and challenge in such a sweet subtle way.

  19. […] Let’s see if this guest post from Brogan tweaks your plan for the day a little bit… […]

  20. […] In A Thousand Years” Donald Miller and then a couple of days later I read this blog post by Chris Brogan.  I highly recommend reading the book as a primer to thinking about just how you want your story […]

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