In all honesty, I’d say I’m lucky if I’m half-way through this life of mine – but average lifespans being what they are, it’s more than likely that I’m past the mid-point, and actually on the down-slope.
However, I take some comfort that there are many productive years ahead of me. In large part, because of all that’s behind me. The growing up: that long stretch when my brain wasn’t fully cooked– feet weren’t working – I wasn’t entirely reliable to bathe and clothe myself. Then there were those years of intimidation and experimentation. Being a bad student – no fun. Being a good student – less fun. That year, I had a boss who asked me every afternoon, “Bring Daddy a beer!” And I did. With a smile. Seriously.
I spent some time learning corporate speak. I experienced the perks of a studio job. There were the years of knowing what I wanted to do – but still trying to get other folks to give me permission to do it. And then I learned that only I could give myself permission.
My first film – the relentless pursuit – the joy and pain of creation. The lull. Those years of early motherhood when I was so lonely and exhausted I thought I wouldn’t survive – or worse, my children wouldn’t. The chapters of marriage – oh, how things change when there are 2 kids + 3 dogs in the mix.
The terrifying choice to do it all over again: to make another film, even though I have a family, or perhaps, BECAUSE I have a family. Just to prove I could do it. And discovering along the way the deeper reasons for story-telling and filmmaking - the connections, the community, the way you can make people feel. The gifts not only to give, but also to receive.
Indeed, what’s behind me is a lot of life. Weddings, funerals, births, really good days and really bad days, success, grief and failure. And many birthdays. I have discovered that some things really do improve with age – things get more complicated and more simple all at once. Most of the time, I have a perspective about the difference between the small stuff and the big stuff. I’m finishing up my second film now – there is ample insecurity, anxiety, excitement, and fear. But I’ve been there before. I’m long over my sophomore slump.
What’s next? The question of the moment it seems. My birthday present to myself is banking on all the good years ahead of me. With all the stories I now have up my sleeve, how I might make a difference and perhaps even a mark. That’s what’s next. I’m just getting started….