This is Max. A cab driver who keeps his cab spotless, memorizes routes and is a sympathetic listener and talker. A people person. He’s saving up to create his own limo company.

And this is Vincent.

Vincent is not a people person. He kills them. For a living. He’s a paid assassin who hires Max for the night to drive him from hit to hit.

Two unlikely and unwilling partners in a night of crime. Max tells Vincent about his dream: to have his own limo company. The story gets interesting when Max starts berating Vincent for what he does. Vincent turns the tables: “how long you been driving this cab? Twelve years??! Some day? Some day my dream will come! One day you’ll wake up and discover it never happened. It never will. And suddenly, you are old.”

Here’s the scene (sound quality is poor, sorry, it’s not my clip).

Max is always planning, dreaming rather, perhaps, and never executing. Unlike Vincent (ha-ha!). Am I like Max? Are you?

Is Max fortunate or unfortunate to meet Vincent? It is rare to meet someone who tells us the unvarnished truth; and rarer when that truth challenges us to become better people instead of staying within our comfort zone.

“The Midpoint Collision” below gives an analysis of the conflict between these two protagonists from a screenwriter’s point of view. (“Midpoint Collision” is a nice title, as you’ll see if you watch the first video “Carpe Diem” to the end.) The movie’s title is Collateral.

This kind of popular YouTube video is not the place you’d expect a Vincent to hang out, but I came across one recently. Someone uploaded a video of the kind pictured above. One of the early commenters wrote (and I paraphrase as I lost the original): “That’s right, you loser. You’d rather upload videos of great footballers than be a great player yourself.”

Midpoint collision. But of a slightly different kind. Harsh, but possibly the kick in the pants somebody needs, as Vincent is the kick in the pants that Max needs. In the YouTube football video example, the YouTuber is definitely executing (he’s making good quality videos), but perhaps he’s busying himself with that as a way to avoid the bigger and more rewarding challenge of being a great footballer himself. (I assume the commenter knows the YouTuber personally.) Am I guilty of that? Is writing this blog post “the easy way”, a way to avoid taking on a greater but more rewarding, interesting and fun challenge? Are you reading this as a way to avoid doing that more difficult yet potentially rewarding thing? Do you have people in your life who will challenge you and who you’ll listen to? Or do you avoid those people?

Charlotte Bronte went to Brussels and fell in love with a professor at the school she was studying at, and later worked at, but at first she hated him because he was always (as she thought) finding fault with her. Later, she gradually realizes that his apparent antagonism is actually helping her to overcome her weaknesses and to grow. She wrote a novel based on her experience: Villette. He was the (at first unwelcome) kick in the pants: he insists that she teach a class at short notice, and she hates him for it as she is a quiet, retiring wall flower and convinced that that’s who she is. But she does it, and though not an unqualified success, it’s not the unqualified disaster she predicted for herself. It’s the beginning of a change in her self-image.

Not quite in the same ball-park, but I was reminded of it so I’ll write about it anyway, is Tiago Forte’s idea of “You only know what you make”  Verum esse ipsum factum  (“What is true is precisely what is made”). Or, as I interpret it, ” It’s not true until you make it”, which he totally ripped off an Italian Renaissance philosopher with the cool name of Giambattista Vico. (Yeah, and that “m” is not, as I’d smuglythought, a mistake for an “n”.) This is not just an idea; it’s a challenge.

How many literary or movie critics read many books or watch many movies, but never write their own book or make their own movie? Am I like that? Are you? Well, yes, I am like that, which is precisely why I’m so interested in reading more about Building a Second Brain, watching videos by with or from Tiago Forte, and waiting impatiently to sign up for his next course.