Getting canceled on because you are not Spielberg is a frustrating fact of this business. Even for Spielberg. I wonder who cancels on him though. Maybe his wife, Kate?
“Sorry, Steve. Something came up. So whatever life changing thing you built up in your head, molded into a fantasy of I’ll-never-have-to-worry-about-ANYTHING-ever-again- magic bullet… it’s gonna have to wait. Till after the holidays. We’ll get something on the books then.”
And Poor Steve waits. And waits… And waits some more. The new year rolls in and he wrestles with calling, or not calling, and finally breaks down and calls. “Ohhh so Sorry, Steven. But Sundance is coming up.”
Steve plots his own demise. Takes the deep dive into the Existential. The aftershock from the fall of an empire and climate change bounce off his torment like an insane game of flaming ping-pong.
And then, the logical, well-grooved, and professionally dubious excuses pile up in a series of back-and-forth e-mails and texts:
Pilot season, then pilot pitch season, then the up fronts… a trip to New York to visit a client.
“But thanks, Stevie, for checking in; we will try and squeeze something in for early next week.” The calendar itself becomes the buck. In that vague sort of hand off way. “Try me on Monday though.”
There are always these built-in delayers, the industry gargoyles to dissuade the meek from peddling their wares.
Ah, but blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth….
My solution after years of working-at-not-working-so much-that-you-can’t-work-on-what-you-should-be-working-on … is to get to the no as fast as you humanly can. You can only hold your breath for so long under water before you black out and sink. Thus is the nature of the balancing act. And I forget it all the time. But that is the thing about balance; it is a series of corrective measures.
Maybe all us snowflake lefties out here in the California Republic can learn from what our detractors call in to AM radio and rant about our main problem. Is that we are too polite. In our quest not to hurt anyone’s feelings and do no harm, we maybe… do.
But then again, the great myth of this whole seventh level of hell is that Hollywoodlanders tell themselves this is unique to them. One of the great dividends of this blog, is learning that these practices translate to D.C., in law firms, academia, and anywhere there are dynamics of power and the legend of exceptionalism. I know this to be true, because you tell me so.
I’m sensitive to this cruel yet polite game of shuffleboard, because my life has been lived in reverse. I was once on the inside. Or so I thought. And now I’m not… what’s the word they use… TRENDING.
And if you are not trending, you are what… in exile? Exile. From what? Now we’ve gotten into the real landscape of the unknown. Who hasn’t felt exiled? From a loved one. Themselves. By circumstances beyond their control. My ancestors crossed an ocean, others follow a migrant trail. Some argue life itself is a form of exile because we are exiled from a heavenly state of bliss the moment we are born. Paradise. East of Eden. Or the border, if you can see it, when the tear gas clears. They say the devil loved God so much, he was forced to live in exile from that which he loved out of punishment for that misguided love. So, hell is the ultimate exile.
And Big Bill Shakespeare played with the theme of exile more than any other theme. Even more than revenge and love, jealousy, and power. Exile.
So, here’s to all my fellow Island dwellers on Arcadia or wherever it is we inhabit. Let’s make sure to be nice to Caliban and set Ariel free. And take time to look around in wonder at the magic place we have been shipwrecked on and remind ourselves that it is not the hell we think it is. But quite the opposite. Life does that. Storms come and deposit us on strange isles as we all try and forge our way through the dark and make our way back home.
But to take it back to the matter of poor Stevie and his vacuum of creativity, why doesn’t Steve just tell’em all to fuck off, shave his head and go to India or something to write a book about it?
Problem is, we take it, most of the time. Out of fear. Because we don’t want to be perceived as … difficult. Pushy. We have an agenda maybe, we ourselves aren’t even aware of.
There’s a fear lurking under it all. That drives us. Luckily, my line of work allows me avenue to deal in human motivation and examine causes and conditions. So I get the side benefit of learning about my favorite subject, me. It’s shocking for how much time I have spent thinking about me, how little I do, in fact, know about me. It has come hard. Self reflection. In this world of smoke and mirrors and constant refreshing and updating and trending and liking. God knows, the news cycle gives us plenty of distraction and easy targets to blame.
“Journal? The world is literally melting, polar bears are eating their young and you want me to journal?”
I think that’s the greatest evil wannabe thugs like Trump have done – is robbed us of our own accountability. Like all black holes, we get pulled into orbit and lose all perspective till we crash or bounce off into the void of space. These Mad Kings bloated in toxic gravity whisper their prison sentence and rent space between our ears even more than they tie up the news cycle. I’m not saying we can’t leave the opera house in a frenzy and storm the palace, like they did in Italy some years back… But so-called kings come and go. The oceans rise and further still, maybe the thing is, as it usually is: to change our perspective.
Maybe we are not made for this constant exposure to things beyond our ability to control. Maybe we are allergic and it makes us sick. Maybe it cuts into time we can better spend looking in. I don’t know, I’m no expert. I’m just a dude who is trying to be a dude in this crazy world and learn what good will is for me. Whatever that means. Times of great upheaval have always been times of great spiritual growth for humanity. We know that to be true because of when Tao was written, when Thich Nhat Hanh went to Plum Village, or Martin hammered shit on the door. Maybe that is the opportunity this sinking boat provides. A chance for in-sight. In this world of automation. And ever-increasing rate of acceleration where our very relevance is threaten
Hold on a second, that’s Steve calling. I have to get back to you.
Insert holding music here. Electronic strings bending familiar Christmas melodies into digital code cutting through static….
Ok. I’m back. Where was I?
Power and exile and ways to cope with the inevitable. Got it. Here’s the thing. Steve, and me and people like us, we hold ourselves hostage. To these dynamics. We give our power away. Or I do. Cause I want that golden sticker. And “they” know we do. So the agreement is formed. Until it’s broken. And then everything changes. And changes quite suddenly. There was a guy I was fortunate enough to know before he passed. Shelly Weiss. He was a doo-wop song writer. Though you wouldn’t think it to look at him. I only knew him briefly while he was doing battle with cancer and losing. He used to say, “there’s never a wrong song… just the wrong room.”
Our problem, or mine, has mainly been continuing to knock on the door to that same room. Even though clearly no one is answering. So, I put my ear to it with a glass, try and pick the lock, go around back to the window, hire a locksmith, teach myself to be a second story guy, and so on till eventually, by no cause of my own… a door opens down the hall. Right behind me.
It happens every time. The only catch is, as my friend Biff likes to say… you can be in the hallway a long time.
So get comfortable. But not too comfortable. And wait in peace. From that peace, intuition is born. And we need that more than ever.