One year later…
A year ago I was a broken man.
A year ago I had just concluded a week of guest-posting for James Fallows wherein a traced the entire, but ultimately unsuccessful arc of the Comstock Films project.
One year ago to this day, I made my final guest-post , Kludges, Adaptation and Evolution, wherein I declared my efforts a failure, and proclaimed my intentions to move on to new things.
[A] few weeks before Jim asked me to fill in, I had come to the conclusion, for all the reasons outlined in this last week, that I couldn’t win. I had come to the conclusion that writing about my work, explaining and framing, was in essence, admitting that I was wrong. You can’t just make movies about love and sex and say that explanations don’t matter. The truth is, the explanations matter more than the movies themselves, and mine weren’t good enough.
In fact, two days before Jim asked me, I received email from the managing editor of another magazine. His bosses (yes, even managing editors have bosses) had put the kibosh on his idea to have me as “featured contributer” (don’t know what that is but it sounds good, doesn’t it!) in an upcoming issue, and he wanted to apologize. (None needed JK, this is bigger than both of us.)
Faced with mounting evidence that my films were born of a time and circumstances that had passed, I resolved that Brett and Melanie: Boi Meets Girl would be the last film, and that it was time to move on to something else.
So what did I decide to do?
I decided to start a sustainable energy eco-tourism project in the community where I live. This project has a educational component for local school children which I hope we’ll be able to provide at little or no cost. That’s my attempt to skip as much of that “flinty middle stage” of life as possible and get on with the giving back part of my life while my heart still beats strong and true.
I am as excited about this as anything I’ve done before. But wizened as I am, I am now able to recognize that as much as this move is a product of my insight and willingness to take risks, it is also simply a response to social trends and technology. I am not a leaf in the wind, but neither am I a colossus standing astride history.
I will readily admit I am a drama-queen and a histrionic. When I read myth, I identify with Achilles; when I read history, Alexander the Great. I see my life as a sweeping drama, with myself as the heroic protagonist. I relish the grand gesture, the flounce, and in keeping with this distorted self-image, I saw my guest-stint at The Atlantic as an opportunity to sing my swan song.
The truth, of course, is more mundane.
Sturgeon’s Law says that 90% of everything crap. In some 25 years of making a living as a photographer, filmmaker and writer, I would say this is about right.
Not exactly a corollary to Sturgeon’s Law, but definitely related is Woody Allen’s aphorism: ninety percent of life is just showing up; and what has transpired in my life in the last year is testimony to the power of simply showing up, of putting one foot in front of the other, of putting in the hours, of simply grinding away.
If that’s not an inspiring truth, it’s a comforting one. As intimidating as the Mon Tiki build may look from the outside, seen from the inside it is mostly showing up and putting in the hours, day after day, week after week.
Most things are mostly like that. Patience and perseverance hold trumps.