Park it Yourself, Metallica-Breath

Park it Yourself, Metallica-Breath

Long ago, I said one of the most ridiculous lines in the history of teen comedy movies. (The line was the title of this article).

Funny enough, I've always been shy about it. I've never talked or written about it until right now. I always glossed over it, half pretending it never happened, always aiming to position myself as something more highbrow than that.

A couple months ago, when I began to realize that something was wrong, and my life wasn't shaping up the way I wanted it to, I did an exercise that was very eye-opening:

I looked back over my life.

What I found surprised me.

The surprise wasn't so much about what I've done... or where I've been... or what ridiculous lines I've said in movies or on TV. What surprised me most was this discovery:

How we feel about our past gives us a roadmap to our future.

And just like everything else life, how we feel about it is entirely up to us.


I like my past. I've had a great adventure. I've been extraordinary places, lived fantastic stories, and experienced dazzling memories that are what I think life is truly all about. My journey has given me a profound optimism and shown me opportunities for our future that go far beyond what most people imagine.

So why wouldn't I always embrace my past?

Our past is our experience. It's made up of all the little moments we've lived — which each came about because of a choice we made somewhere along the way.

If we shy away from our past, it's because we're not seeing it for what it really is.

Our past is a record of our choices.

And sometimes we don't want to "own up" to that record.

British philosopher Edmund Burke famously said, "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."

But I'll go one further:

Those who understand how they got where they are have the capacity to see exactly where they're going from here.

To understand how we got where we are... we need to stroll down memory lane, and see how we react to those moments.


Life is a series of choices.

Every choice sends us in a new direction — toward a new potential life.

The catch is that once the choice is made, it is immovable. That's our life. That's our experience. We can't change our past. We can only look at it and see why we made the choices, and how they brought us to this moment. Which makes the past potentially frustrating.

So here's the exercise:

Create a list of your phenomenal experience.

When you look back on your own life, the first thing to do is celebrate the richness of it. Create a list of all the best things you've done and seen. I've done some fantastic things and had some spectacular moments. Here are some that came to mind for me:

  • I said that ridiculous line in that movie
  • I presented an award on live TV at a Malaysian film festival
  • I directed a TV show in New Zealand
  • I was an on-air DJ at a Los Angeles radio station at age 17
  • I was a screenwriting guru in Australia
  • I created an award-winning educational DVD
  • I co-wrote a book for Apple
  • I co-launched a short film festival in New Zealand
  • I spent one of the best days of my life in embarrassing speedos in Rio de Janeiro
  • I visited a remote Aboriginal village to film a world-renowned artist
  • I met a soon-to-be sumo wrestler in Japan (and saw the most jaw-droppingly beautiful sunset of my life in Okinawa)
  • I sold a music CD by a solo artist to a distribution company in Singapore when I was 21 (and got screwed out of the payment)
  • I spent seven years making an independent feature film that never got finished
  • I chomped a cigar and ate crème brûlée with one of my favorite people in the world on the Champs Élysées in Paris
  • I bungy jumped in Queenstown, New Zealand
  • I skydived in Cairns, Queensland, Australia
  • I traveled through Thailand three weeks before the tsunami
  • I took a road trip through the Australian Outback
  • I had a recurring role on a short-lived TV sitcom (and my TV debut had an audience of 25 million people, thanks to the Cosby Show lead-in)
  • I wrote and published my own book
  • I lived in a spectacular apartment with a 180-degree view of the ocean (and I miss it to this day)
  • I watched a friend win an Oscar
  • I held the controls of a Cessna at 5,000 feet without a license for about 10 seconds
  • I've swam Bondi Beach daily over a whole summer, climbed to the top of Mount Whitney, and snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef
  • I've known true love, and experienced the heartache of losing it
  • I've worked every job in film, from pre-production through post
  • I have lost myself, and rediscovered myself... several times

A funny thing happens when you create a list like this for yourself. You begin to see that you have been living a phenomenal experience.

Maybe your list doesn't include as much travel (or as many projects) as mine (or maybe it includes much more than this). There's no right or wrong. Nobody's list is "better" than anyone else's. This is just my experience. Whatever yours is... is yours.

But if you focus on the richness of your life-to-date, you will see all sorts of phenomenal moments. You'll see the chances you took, and the chances you didn't take.

The choices we make in life...
determine the experiences we have...
which define who we become.

I made choices that led to all those things above. And now those moments define me — whether I like it or not.

And whether you like it or not... is a choice. And it says a lot about who you are, and where you're at right now.


I chose my ridiculous movie line as the title for this article for a reason.

For many years, I didn't want anybody to relate that to me. The line is from a 1991 movie called Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead. I always thought my line was ridiculous, because it makes no sense whatsoever.

In fact, I remember being on set, and asking director Steve Herek if I could change the line. He thought about it (he was good at humoring me), and promptly said No. So I said it. And I remember seeing it for the first time at a cast and crew screening at the Director's Guild in Hollywood. In the whole movie, my line got the biggest laugh with that audience. Because it was so ridiculous.

Since then, I've mostly pretended it didn't exist. Until this article, I've never brought it up in conversation, and have pretty much ignored the fact that I was even in that movie unless someone else mentions it. But here's the thing:

I could choose an entirely different interpretation of that experience.

See, that movie did something else for me, too. It proved to me a very valuable lesson — something I rarely appreciate as much as I should, even though the lesson is indescribably profound. It taught me this:

Anything you can dream, you can achieve.

I don't want to overstate it. My role in that movie is tiny. It's nothing special. If you end up watching for me, don't blink! I'd be surprised if I have one minute of screen time over the hour and a half.

But I had spent six years working very hard to improve my craft. Auditioning. Doing classes and pursuing the acting dream. When I first started acting, I was terrible. Over time and a lot of work, I got better. And that film (like every job I booked) was like a little payoff for me.

I had always wanted to be in a movie. And there I was. I got to sit in a theater and see myself up on the big screen. The effort paid off. I achieved a childhood dream.

I could choose to be embarrassed about saying a ridiculous (and memorable) line on film (that always seemed to be out of alignment with who I perceived myself to be) — or I can use it as a reminder that what you dream, you can make real.

It's a choice.


I am not defined by the things I've done or the places I've been (or even the articles I've written). But all of those things point to who I was at the time I did them.

The kid I was when I said "Park it yourself, Metallica-breath" in front of that Panavision camera in Santa Clarita that beautiful night is very much the same kid I am today.

In fact, I don't feel much different.

I'm twice his age, and I've seen much more of the world.

But both of us share the same sense of wonder about life. We both believe that anything is possible — literally anything — and that life is a phenomenal experience, to be grabbed, soaked up, tasted, explored, celebrated... lived... and that doing anything less than putting a permanent stamp on the world is unacceptable.

When I started looking back, I began remembering that my life has always been phenomenal. I've just spent too little time appreciating it.


With the benefit of hindsight, of course we would make some wiser choices along the way. We might hold back before launching a website. We might not reveal something too personal too soon. We might not go down a path that (in retrospect) was clearly a bad idea.

But one core aspect of my philosophy that I've always maintained... is that we should never regret anything in life.

All of life's choices, all of the decisions we've made, every turn we've taken down the course of our lives... were made because we thought it was the best decision at the time we made it.

And for better or for worse, it brought us to this very moment.

How can we regret what brought us to this moment?

For me, in this moment, I can see that you are phenomenal. This is exactly the right place to be. And I owe this moment to every single moment that happened before... and led me here.

  • That movie taught me you can do what you dream
  • It kept me dreaming big
  • Those dreams took me down interesting roads
  • Those roads gave me extraordinary experiences
  • Those experiences showed me pieces of life's puzzle
  • Those puzzle pieces formed a stunning insight......

There is no room for regret.

Without any moment of my past, I would not be in this moment right now.

Regret is an emotion that holds onto a past "mistake". But there are no mistakes in life. Only choices. And if a choice gave us a result we didn't like — like losing the love of your life, or missing the chance to spend one last moment with a cousin you loved dearly, or giving up a project you loved with all your heart — we must always remember that the choices we've made were right for us at the moment we made them.

Don't regret. Awaken.

If your life is not what you want it to be, that's an opportunity.

Focus on the things you do want today. We're free to move, to travel, to get a new job, to leave a relationship that's not working, to start a new career, to become a vegetarian, or to sail around the world.


The irony of our linear adventure through time is that there is really no such thing as "the past" or "the future". The past are those immovable moments we've already experienced. The future is our imagination of what's to come. All we really have is right now.

The second we live a moment, it instantly becomes the past. So the great irony is this:

No matter what I do throughout my entire life, I will always be the guy that said that ridiculous line in that movie.

Similarly, the adventures I've had around the world or the articles I've written earlier for this website reflect where I was in the moment I wrote them. Those moments are immovable. Forever cemented in time.

When you read this website, you're reading my past. Who I am today (the day you're reading these words) is different to who I was the day I wrote them.

We'll never keep up.

Time marches forward.

The trick is to understand that how we perceive the past gives us our road-map to the future.


What is the phenomenal experience?

It is the moments of your life. And they're happening right now. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Now. For me, right now, it's my time writing Phenomenal. As the experience continues, it will evolve into what comes next.

The roadmap to your future is made up of the choices you made today.

If you don't like where you've been, you can't embrace where you're going.

Accept that your past made you who you are. Yes, even the bad stuff. Then use the bad stuff to show you where you want to go.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your phenomenal experience?
  • What are the unique and extraordinary moments of your life until now that shape who you are, and form the insight of your memories?
  • And what are you doing today to create the memories of tomorrow?

When you see where yesterday brought you, tomorrow becomes clear.


By looking at my past, what I see is that I have chosen a relatively unconventional life. And what it tells me about my future is that I believe I will always make that choice.

My past points to a future that is as big, unconventional, daring, and dynamic as I want it to be.

And since I can see it in my life... I know it's possible for yours, too.

And that is the lesson of my past experience.

Don't shy away from where you've been.

It has brought you to this phenomenal moment in time, where anything you imagine, you can achieve. And if you stick around, I'll show you exactly how.

Yeah. Me.

That guy who said that cool line from that old movie.

Next up, Article #10:
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Mike (not verified) 1 February 2010 - 12:51 pm

Funny. I just did a Google search for ‘metallica breath’. Watching the Babysitter movie.

That line does stand out. hehe

Dan Caban (not verified) 21 March 2010 - 11:34 am

Hi Jeff,

I just wanted to let you know that “Park It Yourself, Metallica-Breath” was NOT one of the most ridiculous lines in the history of teen comedy movies. It was THE most ridiculous line in the history of teen comedy movies.

Best regards,