Dream Big

“Dream Big” has been circling my mind. One of hashtags the Bentonville Film Festival is using is #DreamBigBFF.

As actors, writers, directors, artists, all who reach for the unknown looking for ways of expressing the depths of the imagination, the phrase “dream big” becomes an endeavor; in dreaming big, artists try and take that dream, and actively translate it to an audience with their medium of expression.

These dreams and expressions hopefully reveal truths. Once those truths reveal themselves, we can let go of that particular dream, which is sometimes more difficult than the actual creation of it in the first place.

On this springtime Friday filled with dreaming, I’m rereading Prospero’s speech in Shakespeare’s The Tempest:

Prospero:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Being “…such stuff As dreams are made on…” one of the trickiest things to learn is having the passion to dream, the perseverance to take that dream and turn it into reality, and then the discipline to let go of that creation that will, like our life, dissolve.

Bentonville Film Festival

Lez Bomb will premiere at the Bentonville Film Festival the first week in May.

LezBomb_BFFannouncement

A few weeks back I had coffee with a mentor. She asked if I could remember being excited about Lez Bomb. Finishing the script, getting funding, attaching cast, shooting the film, finishing the edit, getting accepted into festivals. The opportunity for excitement and the victories along the way are endless. But so are the hurdles. It’s often the hurdles that blind us and prevent celebrating the victories. Then we forget the victories even happened. Our perception becomes blurred by stress, holding on to the negative, instead of celebrating the small wins along the way. This mentor told me she thinks she missed the opportunity to enjoy the big moments as they happened; she was too wrapped up in anxiety.

The conversation with her was a gift, a reminder, to take each step with presence. Otherwise it’ll all blow by and be a mere memory. A memory colored by anxiety instead of gratitude.

I think endlessly of story and our innate ability to script our life’s authentic narrative. As Lez Bomb begins its festival journey, I hope to script the journey grounded in presence. Making the festival run about connecting with people, visiting new places, enjoying new experiences, and telling stories along the way while hearing others. I’d hate to miss this story, because I was too wrapped up in the pressures surrounding the one already filmed.

Practically Titanic

I’m always looking for a story. My next script. What do I want to throw myself into for the next undefined amount of time? I’ve been thinking about Semester at Sea, and the semester I spent circumnavigating the globe. World travel aside, my semester on a ship was formative because the ship near capsized. Yes, near capsized. The weather channel even did an episode of Storm Stories on it. It was terrifying, I thought I was going to die, and choosing to spend months writing a script about the experience only to have to pitch it, followed by it being criticized (although some constructive), and developed, is masochistic on so many levels. Yet, I can’t get the idea out of my head. This sums up so much of the drama in my early 20s.

The amount of time it takes to get a script written, then hopefully taken from script to screen is seemingly limitless. It’s as vast as the ocean in which my ship near capsized. And in this business, every project’s near capsizing, always. Usually an idea takes hold of my consciousness and haunts me until I put it on page. And despite the chance of  capsizing, I might get back on this ship…metaphorically speaking.

When I tell the story about our ship being in the middle of the North Pacific, during winter, surrounded by 40 foot swells, freezing water, 116 mile per hour winds, and then getting pummeled by a 50-60 foot wave, it’s a crowd-pleaser. When I’ve met agents, managers, producers, development executives, whomever – in a scenario where it’s a meet-and-greet that feels like an hour of oversharing in which I’m trying to sound like it’s the first time I’ve ever revealed these inner secrets, stories, spilling the depths of my soul to make that personal connection, I like to casually drop in, “Oh, yeah, that one time I almost died.” It never fails, “WHY DON’T YOU WRITE ABOUT THAT?!”

So here I am, finally surrendering to the fact it may be my next script. Though, I want to approach it from a comedic angle. We’ve all seen Titanic. And our ship didn’t actually capsize. But the unfolding shit-show between the mayday signal and finally making it to safety 12 hours later is chalk full of comedy. Going through 12 hours fearing death, your mind goes through all the emotions. ALL OF ‘EM. At some point my mind surrendered, and there was nothing to do but laugh. “This is how I’m going to die?” I was also legitimately pissed it was nothing like Titanic. No romance. Nada. I was assigned to a guy named Brian, to hold on to me as the ship was thrust from side to side. He came up to my waist. I should have been holding on to him. AND, no one knew I was gay. I was going to die, and I hadn’t come out yet. It was my hell. Maybe it’s the coming out story we’ve yet to see.

As terrifying the experience, it was the fear of death that created the panic and anxiety. Once I surrendered to the fact I had zero control, I was enveloped by peace. I’ve tried to remember that peace when life spirals out of control. We can’t control everything. I still struggle with that in my day-to-day. But I remember being hit by that giant wave, and it reminds me to surrender to the present moment, despite the surrounding chaos, and keep focused within that presence to make the best possible decisions moment-to-moment. Because that’s all we can do.

Maybe this moment’s about writing the comedic rendition of this. “Practically Titanic?” I’ll leave it here while I marinate on the idea further.

Book I’m reading.

Favorite recipe of the week.

Favorite song of the week.

New Year, New Focus

Birthdays and deaths always remind me of the finite life span we have. Perhaps because it was just my birthday, and because I just lost someone, I’ve been focused on how I can make the most of my time. Time’s not a renewable resource, and we never know when our clocks about to run out. Yet we spend a majority of time mentally striving, reaching, wishing, yearning for somewhere other than here.

For longer than I can remember I’ve had rules for myself about career markers and what that meant. “I’ll be happen when [fill in the blank].” But the further into my career, and no matter the marker, that blank continuously changes and I’ve struggled celebrating the small victories along the way. There are things I’ve always wanted to do, but set aside as if I needed the permission of career success to allow me to pursue those dreams that weren’t necessarily tied to financial return. These self created restraints haven’t always been helpful. Yes, they’ve created productivity. But with wins came striving for bigger wins, and I didn’t necessarily take time to sit in a space of gratitude and reward myself with one of those dreams that weren’t directly tied to career.

I’ve slowly been trying to break the cycle of constant striving. Going to India for 3 weeks in December was eye-opening in terms of how difficult it was to experience my surroundings without feeling as though I should work. As I move into the new year, I’m shifting my focus away from career wins being an equation that leads to reward. The rewards are less and less, sometimes nonexistent, the busier I get.

Therefore, I want to restructure my mental rulebook. What I’ve categorized as rewards in the past, might actually be necessary activities that lead to inspiration directly tied to career. After all, I’m a writer. A writer needs experience. Blissful experiences, though seemingly outside the box of “work,” may lead to other work, whether through inspiration, serendipitous meetings, or by the very fact they allow the mind space to marinate on ideas.

With age comes experience and through experience, hopefully wisdom. But wisdom can only be integrated into life by diving into the present, and not missing the present because of incessant striving.

Whether it’s travel, restaurants I’ve always wanted to visit, time to listen and discover new music, diving into esoteric studies, or learning some new activity, I’m hoping to integrate these things I’ve so often pushed aside in the past, into my day-to-day, to allow for the balance between striving, gratitude, growth, and presence.

My three favorite discoveries of the week:

Song: Anything is Possible

Restaurant: Daniel

Spa: Sojo Spa

Meditation & Clouds

A sequence of text messages from friends about “being present” got me thinking how that term’s thrown around often without tangible tools to help one arrive at a state in which you’re actually present and not talking about it.

If we take the “woo woo” out of the conversation and look at the practicality in our everyday lives, meditation’s an invaluable tool. Meditation provides the opportunity to clearly see the thoughts as they pass before the forefront of the mind, creating space to choose which thoughts are entertained. The majority of actions we take are determined by habits, not spontaneity or intellect. By creating space between thoughts, and choosing which thoughts to engage, we’re given time to carefully observe the thought and decide the most informed way to act.

When meditation has come up in conversation, I’ve often seen family, friends, acquaintances have tried it, it didn’t work, so they stopped. Instruction to “clear one’s head” isn’t necessarily useful. And approaching the mat with the expectation to experience something is set up to fail. The best instruction I was given was “go to the mat, practice every day and stop asking so many questions.” While questions are good, they’re often an excuse and procrastination masking itself as a question.

Go to the mat, sit in silence, watch thoughts as they pass. When you’ve found yourself latched to a thought and off on a tangent, return to the breath without judgement. “But what should happen?” Listen, if I told you the directions from my home to the Statue of Liberty – does that mean you wouldn’t go? Or would you go, probably notice different things, and have your own experience? We all arrive places a different route, with experiences shaded by the set of lens through which we perceive.

Playlist I’m currently writing to: Writing Jams.

Coffee drink I’m currently obsessed with: Mushroom Coffee.

Book I’m currently reading: The Obstacle is the Way.

Script Writing Lessons

 

I went off and got married, disappeared on a honeymoon, and haven’t blogged in forever. On the honeymoon, my wife and I had an amazing adventure in Bali. One of the days, we ventured off to visit a healer. Our driver took us to a village where we waited an hour for locals to chat with this healer, until it was finally our turn for a little divine intervention. One of the things he told me that’s chimed in my head since was – I need to make decisions and stick with them, and not get stuck in the chaos of “what ifs” and the crippling tangents our mind is so naturally inclined towards that create stagnation, and prevent action.

I’m in the middle of a rewrite on a script I’m developing with a company. While digesting the notes, I see my main character, my protagonist, doesn’t really know what she’s doing in all the scenes. Yes, the scenes and dialogue are funny. But she doesn’t always have a clear objective. She’s lacking the decisiveness I sometimes struggle with in my own life.

Story structure is a wonderful reminder that we’re all the hero of our own journey, and have the option to choose the narrative we want to tell. The problem is, we often find ourselves reactionary – life happens at us, and then we react, instead of us creating the space for life to happen, giving ourselves a moment to observe, and then actively choosing our next step on the narrative we long to tell. I loved choose-your-own-adventure-books as a child. It’s a mystery why I so often forget to choose my own adventure.

My biggest regret in life would be to be on my death bed and look back at my life as if it were a script and realize my protagonist didn’t always know her objective and didn’t always make clear decisions that would lead her on the journey she wanted to embark upon.

Instead of getting stuck in the stagnation of the world happening around us, lets gently reminder one another that habitually reacting to the chaos doesn’t give us the space and opportunity to give meaning to the chaos, and decisively choose our next step, in a way that helps us actively create the story we’d like to tell on this adventure of life.

Commencement

Commencement: a beginning or start.

I love to break up my morning writing sessions with a good commencement speech.

There’s so much promise in a commencement speech, sending graduates off into the world with wisdom that hopefully inspires choices that lead to actions, that somehow equate to success and happiness in their future.

The fact of the matter is we don’t need to graduate from anything to indulge in a good ‘ol commencement.  The dawn of each new day allows us to indulge in such on a daily basis if we choose.

With that knowledge comes great responsibility – it means that every day, upon rising, we set off on an adventure.  Remember those choose your own adventure books? Every day we step into our own story, and choose our own adventure.  Our personal story is our own choosing.  It’s terrifying!  Do I choose to wake up and reach for my phone, check my e-mails, etc.  Or do I wake up and decide to slay a dragon on that particular day?

I’ve been consciously trying to partake in activities that make me uncomfortable.  I went paddle boarding last week – paddled hard and got nowhere, real fast.  My fiancé and I were not informed how bad the current was.  But it was an adventure.  It was something I’d never done before.  And then I went skimboarding for the first time in ten years.  I HATE being bad at things.  It was rough. But it forced me to dive back into that childlike playfulness I often loose track of.

Now, in fairness, I was on somewhat of a vacation – which inevitably provides time to play and have adventures.   BUT – creating space for a daily adventure, even as mundane as an early morning walk vs. the immediate jump to e-mails, creates space for us to choose our own destiny instead of blindly walking into a fate determined by habit vs. our own free will.

A lifetime is a series of commencements leading up to an ending that’s as climactic as you make it!  Step into your own adventure book and write the page-turner worth reading.