I Feel Like I've Been Living In A Dream Since Fred Armisen Told Me He Feels Like He's Living In A Dream

Talking to someone so completely in awe of life reminded me exactly why I do anything.
Publish date:
January 6, 2014
fred armisen, being in the moment, inspiration, positivity, gratitude

I told you how I've been feeling fairly bottomed out lately. Getting back on Zoloft has helped me, and so has taking more risks. I did exactly that last week when I emailed Fred Armisen out of the blue to see if he might ever do my podcast.

It was a long shot I knew. And it was 6 p.m. on a weekday. And he was probably living in LA or Portland right at that moment. Fat chance, right? Nope. Instead, I got an email back right away. "I can do 7 p.m. tonight if you want."

At the time, my intern Rajasri was over, and I squealed. "Oh my God! He can do it tonight!"

That's when, all of the sudden, it hit me. I was wearing the same clothes for about three days, hadn't taken a shower in the same amount of time, and my place looked like it had been destroyed by a 61-pound pitbull and a 38-year-old woman, because, well, that's what happens pretty much every day to my apartment.

"I just know he's going to want to come over here, I know it," I said.

Sure enough, he emailed back saying that it'd be easier at my place than his hotel, so would that work?

"SURE!!! THAT SOUNDS GREAT!!!!!" I started to write back. Rajasri told me to keep it cool, bro, keep it cool, so I took out all the caps and the exclamation points and wrote him back. Then we dove headfirst into organizing my place like our lives depended on it and I took the world's fastest shower in the history of time.

I had met Armisen once before at a "Saturday Night Live" after-party, and we had mutual friends in common back in the Chicago music scene where he started out, but still I knew that him actually making time to do something like this was a long shot.

Who the hell am I to this guy? Nobody, dude. But I made myself take the risk right that moment instead of getting lost in a fog of waiting because I wanted everything to be perfect. This was a major star. Things needed to be perfect. I must wait. For the perfect time. For the perfect reason. Don't screw up this contact!

But as you know from other rah-rah-rah columns I've written, I am so lame as to quote Wayne Gretzky. And you know what the truth is? "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." Preach, Gretzky, preach.

It was my post-depression momentum I was experiencing that was leading me to just do things. Even when they weren't perfect.

At 6:59 p.m., Rajasri and I looked around -- and my place was spotless. It was hilarious how organized it was. Have you ever done that? Cleaned something up that has so much psychic weight attached to it, and then when you remove your own psychic guilt, the chore is actually not that hard at all?

"I should just pretend that he's coming over every day," I said. It's like that silly Tony Robbins principle, where you harness momentum to change your state, and miracles can happen. Suddenly, everything changes. Like, all I ever do is bitch about cleaning and organizing, and when it came down to it, I had an entirely new place, an entirely new state of mind in a matter of 59 minutes. (And here's a cherry: I've kept it up ever since.)

When Armisen arrived at my door, I found myself way more giggly and stupid than I normally get around celebrities, and I saw him doing to me what I've done to other people who aren't keeping it cool, and he was kind and said, "Relax -- really, just relax."

I did, and he proceeded to change my state even further.

Because there was one moment in the interview that stuck with me. He talked to me about how he got his first big break when Bob Odenkirk had seen a self-created video he once shot, and then from there he got the agent, and from there he got cast on SNL.

"Everything, even still, is just icing to me," Armisen said. "It is all a dream. I was already blown away that I had met Bob Odenkirk. I was like 'Oh my god, Bob Odenkirk.'"

Right there.

That's what I'm missing so often: awe and gratitude and being in the moment.

It's the feeling that you bring to all of your experiences that creates the next one. It's the moment that I had when I first met Jane at the launch party for xoJane a few years ago. Except because I didn't have Armisen Vision on at the time, I believe my desire that night was instead: I'm so happy I met Jane. This is so neat. Wow. Cool. OK, I'm done with that gratitude. Now I hope she offers me a job. I want. I want, I want. I WANT!!!!!!!

Honestly, I think it's great to want things. It's one of the main things that I tell other people to do: to try for what you actually want. (Except if you are auditioning or performing, then the best advice is always NOT to try. But to get that first audition? You best TRY. Try, and try again. Then when you are in the thick of it, that's when: You just be.)

But wanting is also the root of all suffering, as any good Buddhist can tell you. It's that constant carrot dangling of more and better and faster and now. One of my favorite interviews ever is with "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston to Marc Maron, where he talked about his success in show business. All it came down to for him was detaching himself from the outcome. That's why he had made it every step of the way in his career. That's why he was so good. That's why he was so happy. That's why he was so radiant -- in every way possible.

The clarity with which he articulated his key to his success was mind-boggling. Think about it: That's how you enjoy every moment along the way is the journey itself. That's how you appreciate the dream that we are all living in.

Instead, if you fall prey to that ever-chattering ego, it's so easy to fall into the trap of what so many people do, one of the main sources of suffering of the human condition: comparing yourself to others -- and what you need to do, what comes next, what number on the list have you reached? But it's a mistake.

It's throwing that state of dream away. Because what it comes down to is every step along the way, not the final destination. Look at it this way. Over the years, I've met a range of celebrities through the different jobs I've held, and I can tell you without a doubt that some of the richest people in the world (far richer than Armisen) -- those who seemingly have it all -- are also some of the most miserable.

Because they don't have that same attitude and because they fail at what I also fail at so very often: Appreciating how every day is like a dream, and the in-the-moment-ness that creates that grateful positively radiant mental state.

So tell me about how you put yourself in the best state you can. How are you enjoying your journey lately?


Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.