In the Time of Your Life

In my life, so often I feel as though we are connected in more ways that we will ever know. Every once in a while, a light shines on this figurative web and we are able to see the wires that pull us close to those around us. I was reminded of this very recently by this story…

In 1994, Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando were set to do a movie together called “Don Juan Demarco.” Johnny Depp had looked up to Marlon Brando for his whole life. You see, both of these men were men forged by the fire of a trying childhood and found refuge by taking on the image of strong men on screen. The first time these two men talked on the phone, they spoke for three hours. Life, love, family, craft, and passion were topics covered in that time. It turned out that these two men were kindred spirits. Men who might have passed by each other on the street and never recognized their similarities. 

After their first conversation, they decided to get dinner together at Brando’s house in Los Angeles. While there, Depp began to recite his life’s philosophy, the preface to “In the Time of Your Life” by William Saroyan. Midway through this monologue, which Johnny Depp had memorized by heart, Marlon Brando stopped him. Brando finished the preface, word for word. Johnny Depp was amazed by this and told Brando that he had ripped out this preface from a book and carried it in his wallet for the last ten years. Brando told him to hold on for a moment and ran upstairs. Coming back down the stairs, Marlon Brando pulled out a very similar page ripped out of a book that displayed the same mantra. He had kept it on his night stand since he was young. They had lived their life, day after day, to the same philosophy and modeled their days in a similar order.

The preface reads…

“In the time of your life, live—so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart. Be the inferior of no man, or of any men be superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret. In the time of your life, live—so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.” – William Saroyan

This preface has become a mantra in my own life and I too have joined the men by putting this quote in my wallet. I believe that it holds much of the truth that God has given us in a single paragraph. The story of Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando reminds me of the preface itself as it says that, “Every man is a variation of yourself.” I truly believe that and we are doing a disservice to others by withholding our ideas from them. There is no room for shame in our time and the greatest joy is to shine a light on the connection we all share.

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Max Yelken

A young man looking for a sustainable life of adventure in a changing world.

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