THE ONES I THINK ABOUT

The labor of pushing this thing around can stop strong people dead in their tracks. It can also set free human inventions of the most profound order.

The labor of pushing this thing around can stop strong people dead in their tracks. It can also set free human inventions of the most profound order.

There are projects I've been wanting to do for years. I have a fictional screenplay that I know could be made into a short film for comparative peanuts. I'm deep into writing a book that just needs a little focused time to fully live and breathe. The 1AU team has a ready-to-go documentary on an obscure aspect of oceanography we're rarin' to shoot, and I have a series of abstract studio photographs I'm itching to try.

Coming up with ideas is never the problem. Having the freedom to plant a stake in the sand and say, "for the next few months, this will be my singular labor in life" is always the hard part.

Of course many people manage to create astounding things, all the time. (I like to think that we're among that number from time to time!) Some are particularly good at it. It's a now legendary story in the movie world that while working days on his achingly dark Schindler's List, Stephen Spielberg spent nights editing Jurassic Park. That the two movies could not be more different is merely interesting, but not the point. That he could intellectually compartmentalize and adequately apply constructive labor to each wildly distinct project at the same time captures my attention and curiosity and respect.

There are many reasons some people can achieve in the face of life's daily challenges. Circumstance certainly has something to do with it. Who you know, what headwinds you face, what timing and opportunities and convergence of intangible vapors you may encounter all play a part. It doesn't hurt to have good training, good genes, and good luck. But I'm fully convinced of another truth here: tenacity has an awful lot to do with it, too. Even the most tenacious among us must still confront the same twenty-four hour day, with all of the realities of contemporary life pulling us from the goals we dream about.

So often the excuses we tell ourselves sound logical in our ears, even as they make us wistful, discouraged, even despondent. But some people find a way. Some people….some people…

Speaking about the working as a writer, the great poet Marge Piercy once said, rather perfectly, "Work is its own cure. You have to like it better than being loved.” Tough stuff, to be sure. But this is selfishness in the extreme--this need to create--and if you're a regular, close reader of this blog you'll appreciate that I don't have a lot of patience for creators who simply live for singularly selfish adulation.

However, that being said….she's right.

The projects I think about are those that struggle to live. Art lives beyond the lives of those who create it. Art lives in another dimension, another time, an altered space separate and apart from those whose hands bang it out on keyboards or chisel it from stone.

Some people win the lottery; they don't interest me. Winning the lottery is a mathematical function, an improbability for the individual, but a certainty for someone.

Some people don't do anything with their lives, content to let their bottoms stretch the cushions of their couches. They don't interest me either. Life is short, and people who don't seem to engage with the world in some substantial way strike me as a philosophical abyss.

Some people manage to create things, despite the challenges of the day. Some of these people are more successful than others: iPhone inventors versus backyard flower gardeners. Circumstances, opportunities, statistics, personality: many forces influence what's possible, and what any one person can do. Achievement is not a goal to permanently chance in life, lest lots of the best parts of life are permanently missed. But when I think about the projects I'm most eager to create, I cannot help but think, "There must be a way."

For finding a solution, there can be no greater motivator.

PS -- If you're interested in learning more about the two film projects mentioned above, 1AU Global Media is now actively soliciting partnerships with funders. Whether you're interested in natural history documentaries or socially minded flights of fancy, we're on the hunt. Be part of the solution, and therefore be part of the moment of creation. Get in touch if you'd like to learn more.

--MS

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