It is extraordinarily hard to know what you want.
It is harder in a way to know what you want than how to get it. Sometimes we block our desires for fear we won't get them. Our fears of disappointment and rejection are so huge that we will stay with things we are unhappy with because we know them. Fear of the unknown is so big.
I like big. It's a good word. Short but expansive. It makes me smile when I say it.
Choosing what you want is the biggest difference you can make in your life.
You cannot be doing what you'd rather be doing until you have made that choice. Not the decision, an informed choice. Choice about what you are, what you want and what you will have to lose to do it.
-- Nicola Phillips, The Big Difference: Life Works When You Choose It
These are words from a book I happened to pick up on January 1, 2007. Inside the book I wrote "a $10 gift to myself" thinking it would inspire me. I only bought it because it was 1/2 off, and years later I'm still enjoying the book and the notes I wrote inside it.
This morning, especially, I recalled where I was in my career (and emotionally) when I bought the book. Filmmaking seemed like a dream that was so far away because I didn't know how to do it, where to go, or how to figure it out. I also didn't know what, exactly, I wanted to do in the industry. I just knew that I wanted to try it.
The year before I bought The Big Difference, I had decided to move to L.A. When I visited L.A., I loved it and wanted to stay. I thought about whether I should ship, drive or sell my car. I thought about how to get a job in L.A. to pay the bills while figuring out how to get into the film industry. I could be a secretary, or answer phones. Something corporate to pay the bills. I even looked at where to live, and how to find roommates. I was convinced this was the plan. But something didn't feel quite right. So I stayed in my beloved home state of North Carolina.
Low and behold, I have been able to do everything I wanted to do in L.A. right here in Raleigh, N.C. These two worlds are quite different, but I have been able to try what I wanted to try without actually moving. I was able to study improvisational comedy through ComedyWorx and iO, and I am now making my own film. How lucky I am to have had these opportunities in my home state.
For those of you who are trying to figure out your career, what you want out of life, and how to make your dreams come true, I recommend this book. It leaves you with a lot of questions, but helps you think through things for yourself. It helps you figure out the path you'll take, because none of us take the same paths in life, right?
My favorite chapter is titled "Living in Chaotic Space," which is exactly where I've been living for about three years now. The learning curve I've faced in making Abandoned Allies is both thrilling and simultaneously exhausting. Because I crave new information, though, this chaotic space has become quite satisfying and comfortable (on some days, but not all days).
In the past week I've wanted to throw my massive desktop out the window out of frustration. Then on days like today, I'm in the right place at the right time and the right people show me the right information. It's as if the universe aligns for the briefest of moments to show confirmation that I am doing what I'm meant to be doing. And that, my friends, is worth any frustration I might feel along the way.
Besides, these silly little battles I have are so insignificant when I see the bigger picture. Any time I start to feel tired or have self-pity, I am reminded of the struggles that my cast members went through in their lives. It's a healthy dose of perspective, and I am often left weeping in the midst of editing video.
How I long to share this film with you. I only hope that the film will tell these stories well, and that you'll forgive me of my first-time filmmaker mistakes.