This past weekend I finished reading Steven Pressfield’s engrossing book “The War of Art.” This book has totally messed me up! In a good way. It’s a must-read for anyone who deems himself or herself a creative professional. But be forewarned. It may mess you up too. (It’s a totally easy read. Only 165 pages, many of which are literally only one paragraph long.)
As my family and I were driving home from holiday break this past Sunday, Tasra and I were discussing the book. Well, we were discussing my career as a filmmaker in light of the things Pressfield talks about in the book. I was having a problem reconciling whether or not I am TRULY a filmmaker. Aside from the jobs I am hired to produce, and for a pro bono gig here and there for my church or some worthy cause, I haven’t made ANY personal films just for me. In between jobs I’m not going out and shooting my own stuff. When Tasra asked me the question that Pressfield poses in the book, “If I were the last person on earth, would I still be making films?” I couldn’t answer right away. I didn’t know if I would. I mean, if there’s no one around to inspire, encourage, entertain, or convict with my work, what would be the purpose? Tasra then said, “Well, I think that’s something you should seriously think about.”
I can honestly tell you that when she said that my heart sank. I literally started to panic. Maybe I’m NOT really a filmmaker. Maybe this is NOT what I was really meant to do. But it’s all I know (or think) I want to do. If it’s not filmmaking, then what is my calling.
Just as I was having this mini-panic attack, I looked to the side of the road and we were passing a sign that read, “Damascus – 2 miles.” Oh great! I LITERALLY was on a road to Damascus!
THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
During the days of Christianity’s early years, the apostle Paul (formerly Saul) used to be in charge of overseeing the killing and imprisonment of the early Christians. Then one day on the road to Damascus, God blinded him, spoke to him, and three days later, because of that experience, he became the apostle Paul—perhaps the most successful evangelist of the faith ever.
When a person has a “road to Damascus” experience, whether or not you prescribe to the faith, it simply means a life-changing event. So imagine how I must have felt when at the height of this engaging, yet disturbing conversation about what my calling in life really is, I see that I am actually on a road to Damsacus. This could not just be a coincidence.
GETTING OFF MY BUTT
Well, after about a 3 hour conversation (30 minutes of which actually included me just being silent and pondering all of this), I came to a conclusion. Again, my lovely wife was the hero. She reminded me that Pressfiled also said in the book, “If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), ‘Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?’ Chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is widely self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
The truth is, Resistance constantly beats me. Resistance is the personification of those things in our lives that find some way to keep us from doing our calling. Procrastination. Excuses. Fear. Etc. For me, it’s been Waiting. Waiting for the right time. Waiting for the right crew. The right equipment. The funds to do the kind of films I want to do. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. I need to just get up off my butt and start shooting. Even if what I first shoot it totally crap, I need to go out and shoot. As a writer, I’ve found that when I start to sit down to write, even if I’m unsure of everything I want to write, the muse will take over, inspiration will strike, and I’ll get it out. But the muse can’t start her work until I do.
I think filmmaking is the same way. I need to just start shooting and see what happens. I may have to re-shoot a project. I may shoot something and never even show it. But I gotta get out and shoot. Staring with the race relations documentary I’ve been talking about since last summer. I’m starting this weekend. You can hold me accountable.
Is there something you’ve been waiting to create? Just get up off your butt and go do it already!