10 May The Bar is an Illusion
This morning I tried to go back to bed after driving my 11 year old daughter to school. Despite my heavy eyelids, I had trouble going back to sleep because once I get under the warm covers I start to write. Often, I ruminate on several different ideas and themes and then I struggle to make sense of how they fit together. This morning I thought about work, kids photo projects, responsibilities, broken pipes, cycles in my life, and aging. I’ve been writing a lot less recently because I’m in promo mode and just don’t have the time or bandwidth to focus on it. Our film “All The Rage” is done, we have screening dates lining up, and that means an endless series of tasks to make sure that things go well. In addition, we are hustling to finish a second feature film and we have an inordinate amount of work to do. At the same time, life goes on, and kids need taking care of.
here’s the trailer to the new feature documentary- “Working in Protest”- 30 years of protest footage rolled into a semi-coherent immersive narrative.
One thing I was thinking about in the morning was my 15 year old daughter driving us to dinner last night. She got her permit a couple of weeks ago but hasn’t had the opportunity to really drive until last night. I took a few photos, but I also tried to be focused on helping her. It was a real milestone, and a somewhat nervous one. In “All The Rage,” there’s a small snippet of the words I spoke at my father’s memorial in our living room. I mentioned that he was always calm and supportive in traumatic situations, “if I wrapped my car around a tree he was fine… but if you ordered the most expensive thing on the menu he’d go ballistic.” This was kind of true. I did wrap his car around a tree while going too fast up a friend’s dirt driveway. I was nervous that he’d kill me, but he took it in stride for the most part. When I got arrested for having beer in his car a couple years later, he did go ballistic. Not so much because I had beer, but because I had lied to him. (I wasn’t driving- a non-drinking friend was). I think that was the low point of our relationship. As a parent, I understand why he was so upset. I don’t think that my child will a wild drinker – or drink and drive- but she’s not always honest with me and it kind of drives me crazy too. For years I have been trying to get her to understand how important trust is. However, trust butts up against a desire for autonomy, and white lies proliferate. We’re working on it.
That arrest happened when I was in the last days of my senior year of high school (it’s a much longer funnier story that I’ll save for another time). It was a time of transition in my life, and, in retrospect, in my parents lives as well. My brother and I were getting ready to go to college and they were about to have an empty nest. Transitions are difficult, and I am aware that I’m going through one right now- which is another thing I was thinking about this morning. We were in Argentina last week showing “All The Rage”. When we travel with the film, we meet a lot of new people and in general both my wife and I get a lot of “no way are you that old” responses when we are asked our age. The last festival I travelled to was in February, and it was a week or so after my 48th birthday. 48 isn’t really all that significant but it’s getting close to 50, and for the first time this year I started to feel my age. At that festival, I was hanging out with people who were about 20 years younger than me. I started to feel old. At some point, it got to me unconsciously and I had trouble sleeping until I made the connection. Once I recognized what was making me anxious I was able to move past it.
However, this week I’ve been aware of it again. I’m more exhausted than usual, the bags under my eyes aren’t going away when I get rested, and my recall of names is shot. I’m not giving up on staying young at heart, but I’m being realistic. My daughter is driving. Soon she’ll be gone and I’m not going to live, or be young, forever. That shit will get under your skin if you don’t own it. I’m writing it down in order to own it.
Since I couldn’t sleep, I got out of bed and I started to get to work. I sent an encouraging email to a friend who was finishing a project. She immediately asked if we could talk. She had set a really high bar for herself internally in regards to the success of the project and she was feeling the weight of that bar. She was pretty wound up about it. I told her, “The weight of the bar feels crushing but the bar is an illusion. The bar doesn’t exist except in your mind. Just let go of the bar.” As we talked it out I could feel her letting go of it and by the end of the conversation she sounded better. In that moment, I felt better as well. Age is an illusion on some level also. We really are only as old as we feel. When we let go of the illusions of age, race, class, of expectation – we’re a hell of a lot lighter.
All day- trying to get this piece on paper was my bar. It was heavy and I felt it’s weight tugging at me. I had put down the first paragraph but other things constantly grabbed my attention. Frankly, if I don’t write it out when it comes, it’s gone. So this eventing I just sat down and typed. It’s not perfect. It doesn’t make so much sense, and it doesn’t expertly weave together all the disparate thoughts I was thinking this morning – but it’s written and at this point, with everything else that’s going on, that’s good enough for me.