Staring at the end of a long, dark tunnel, you notice a glimmer of light. An important milestone on your path toward success has come within your sights. You run toward the achievement you’ve been waiting for, coming closer, and closer with each stride until it’s within your reach and—ZAP! It vanishes in front of your eyes. Your mind is filled with unease, it becomes a malaise of wishful thinking, limited focus and zero accountability. You quickly pace for answers, “Where did it go?It was just here, I could see it! What happened to it? It couldn’t have disappeared out of thin air? Why, why, WHY!?”
Then, in the midst of your frantic search, an explanation begins palpitating from your chest. Nervous, you tremble with the realization that you have just entered The Twilight Zone.
Perhaps no other genre is more apt at revealing more about ourselves than we’d like to know than science fiction. The best examples of the genre focus on how our present actions might affect us in the future. Coincidentally, this is also one of the primary teaching points of The ONE Thing. The habits and actions we take today have an outcome—for better or worse—that determine our future. By understanding where we currently stand and where that will take us, we can build a path to where we want to be.
Conceivably no show in the history of television was able to captivate the relationship between desire, actions and results more-so than Rod Sterling’s The Twilight Zone. Known for its gritty, unabashed story-telling and unpredictable twists and turns, this show, for much of the mid-century, was an outlet for many writers looking to explore some of the choices we make in our daily lives and answer the question, “What if?”
For today’s post, we’d like to honor the show’s rich story-telling tradition by sharing some of the ONE Thing related lessons we were taught by some of the show’s more popular episodes. At the request of Jay Papasan, we’d like to warn our readers that the following post contains spoiler alerts. For those of you who haven’t watched the following episodes, beware your wandering eyes!
With that out of the way, allow us to take you into…The Twilight Zone…dee-do-dee-do-dee-do-dee-do:
Guard Your Time (Time Enough at Last,1959)
“That’s not fair. That’s not fair at all. There was time now. There was, was all the time I needed.”
Most Twilight Zone fans are familiar with the famous scene depicted above, where Henry Bemis, sitting at the end of the world is cheerful because the apocalypse has finally given him the one thing he needed in order to feed his inner bookworm: time. Regrettably, like many other travelers experience in this alternate dimension, his joy doesn’t last very long.
Without distraction from the other demands of his life, he stumbles into a library and begins organizing his reading lists for the years to come. Finished with stacking the books spared by the apocalypse, he sits down to begin reading. However, before turning his first page, he’s distracted by a broken clock. Relishing in the idea that time no longer has power over him, he turns his attention to a stray book. Reaching for the book, he loses his balance and stumbles, causing his glasses to fall from his nose and break on the cement steps of the library. The irony is clear, even with all the time in the world, he can’t spend it how he sees fit.
Like Henry found, you’ll always face a number of barriers and distractions that will attempt to derail you from accomplishing your ONE Thing. When going after your goal, build a bunker that protects you from interruptions and so you can focus on what you need to accomplish. Whether it’s a spare pair of spectacles or enough food to satisfy eventual hunger, sometimes preparing for distraction is just as important as finding time to indulge in your wishes.
Manage Your Stress with a Vacation (A Stop at Willoughby, 1960)
“It was an odd dream—very odd dream. Willoughby, it was summer—very warm. Kids were barefooted. One of them had a fishing pole. It all looked like a Currier and Ives painting. Bandstand, bicycles, wagons—I’ve never seen such serenity. It was the way people must have lived a hundred years ago.”
In one of our favorite episodes, we find Gart Williams, an executive at an advertising firm, at a breaking point. Stuck between a boss whose idea of inspiration is to yell at his employees to “Push, push, push!” and a wife who thirsts for a life of high society, Gart begins desiring a life of his own design.
On a train ride home from another back-breaking, uninspiring day of work, Gart dozes off into a dream, when he is awoken by a conductor asking him to step off the train and into a town filled with simplicity, sunshine, and relaxation. The name of this lucid destination was Willoughby.
In the following days, he would experience similar dreams during his commute. In each dream, he was given the same opportunity by the conductor. At first, Gart was hesitant to step off the train and enter the world of Willoughby—the responsibilities he had in the real world were too great for him to take a break. But, over time, stress began to take its toll on his mental and physical health, leading him to the conclusion that he needed to make a change. After letting a few chances to step off the train and venture into paradise pass, he eventually made the decision to escape his troubles and venture into the town of Willoughby.
Again, this is The Twilight Zone, and it wouldn’t be a classic episode without a memorable twist. When we, the viewers, return to the real world, we find out that Gart’s trip to Willoughby cost him dearly.
Stress, when not dealt with, can have very real consequences on our health and lives. Like the episode points out, sometimes we just need a vacation to help us recharge for the daily struggles we face in life. It’s easy to get caught up in achieving our goals that we forget about the other, equally important areas of our life.
Vacations are a great time to relax, unplug and think clearly about the changes you need to make in your everyday life. Sometimes the best way find a solution to a problem is to remove yourself from the situation altogether so you can see from a more objective angle.
Take a Chance on Being Right (Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, 1963)
“I know, but I’m the only one who does know…right now.”
This classic episode begins with Bob Wilson boarding a plane with his wife for a routine flight home. Shortly after takeoff, he notices a furry man standing on the wing. Frightened, he calls a flight attendant to the window, but when she arrives, there’s nothing abnormal outside the window. Throughout the flight, Bob attempts to raise awareness about the gremlin, who begins tearing back a layer of metal above one of the plane’s engines. However, each time someone takes a peek outside the window, no gremlin is there to be seen.
After presumably crying wolf a few times, Bob’s credibility is wounded, particularly after his wife reveals that he had just recovered from a nervous breakdown that had occurred six months earlier on another flight. With circumstances becoming more and more dangerous, Bob steals a revolver from a police officer on the flight, opens up the auxiliary window and shoots the gremlin.
The plane is forced to make an emergency landing where Bob is carried away in a stretcher, where we assume he’ll receive further treatment. However, while the audience still holds disbelief, the final shot of the episode lands on the wing, where we see that something had indeed been terrorizing the plane.
It’s not unusual for nay-sayers to tell you that what you believe in is impossible when you are thinking big and outside the box. Having the ability to discern between truthful observations and a lack of shared vision can be difficult. Listen to the skeptics to determine if what they say has any validity. But remember, once you’ve determined the right path, lined up the right dominos and dedicated yourself to knocking them down one by one, the ultimate determinate for your success is the result of your actions.
Don’t be afraid to fail, but also don’t be afraid to be wrong either. As it turned out, Bob wasn’t crazy. If he hadn’t believed in his own vision, the story’s outcome would have been far different for everyone involved.
Did you experience any “aha’s” while revisiting The Twilight Zone? Share with us your own life-lessons on Facebook!