My Personal Road to Damascus

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!

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16 thoughts on “My Personal Road to Damascus

  1. Its nice to not feel alone. I am about to pick up that book, not just to say Ive read it and can call myself a true “creative”, but as you said, walk the Damascus Road and push on.

    I am excited to have a conversation one year from now at where you are.

  2. Ron,

    I don’t know if the question about being the last person on Earth (and what would you be doing) is helpful. I understand what they’re trying to get at, but it’s not a practical question.

    Consider.

    As a Christian, your chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. If you were the last person on Earth, that wouldn’t change. In eternity, that won’t change. Using your talents to tell stories, to inspire people, to generate a living for your family, to have fun, etc. is all good; but it’s temporary my friend!

    You’re blessed to have the skillset you do. Your primary jobs, though, in order as Scripture defines them are:

    1: love the Lord
    2: love your wife
    3: love your kids
    4: love others

    Your job is not your “calling,” it’s just part of what we do here. When I think about photography, I see it as a means to serve my clients, to make them happy, to help them remember, and to feed my family–I don’t struggle about it being a calling, it’s a way to fulfill my obligations in 1-4 above. I am blessed that I enjoy it, too!

    I think we can over-think some of these things. I love coming back to Scripture when my brain gets to big… The first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

    Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
    A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,[1] and to enjoy him forever.[2]

    [1] Psalm 86. Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee. Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them. But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. O turn unto me, and have mercy upon me; give thy strength unto thy servant, and save the son of thine handmaid. Show me a token for good; that they which hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me. Isaiah 60:21. Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. Romans 11:36. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s…. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Revelation 4:11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

    [2] Psalm 16:5-11. The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 144:15. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD. Isaiah 12:2. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Luke 2:10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Revelation 21:3-4. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

    1. Thanks for the comment Kevin. It’s so funny you write this. This is exactly the conclusion I came to personally, that the work I do is ultimately to glorify Him, regardless if I’m the last person on earth. That is how I got past the “last person on earth thing.” If I do that, then whether I’m making a video for a worthy cause, serving my clients, or just want to entertain, it will serve it’s purpose.

      1. Yeah. I think the “last person on Earth” thing is a selfish and human-centered question, which is why I don’t place much value in it. Some people think that the only way to really serve God is to be a missionary or pastor; but they’re not reading their Scriptures if that’s the conclusion they’ve come to.

        I’m not saying God doesn’t inspire people to take on those roles, but we are all part of one body, and each part has a different function. We can’t all be pastors.🙂

        How you conduct yourself and run your business is a reflection of your relationship with God. We all know, too, that the movie industry can use a little light.

        Contact my friend, Guy Camara. You will have a LOT to talk about with him:
        http://kingdompictures.com/www.kingdompictures.com/HOME.html
        http://kingdompictures.com/www.kingdompictures.com/studioveritas.html

        Trust me. Just call him. He will be thrilled to talk with you. You’ll probably end up making a feature film together. He just got a greenlight on a project that sounds very interesting…
        Guy (pronounced “gee”)
        317.513.6793

  3. Ron,

    It’s good to push yourself and to ask yourself the tough questions of identity and how that relates to your career. I’ll have to check that book out. Thanks for the heads up on that. Honestly, I already thought you were a film maker? Now about making a feature length films… well that takes unbelievable amounts of money, talent, opportunity, connections, a worthy story, and an incredible amount of time and devotion. That’s big! But Ron, you’ve never struck me as a guy who thinks small. I’d love to see what you come up with in regards to a short film. See how it works for you. Experiment and prepare yourself little by little to do bigger and bigger stuff. I think you’re already doing that. Oh.. and if you need any help.. I’m always up for collaboration! (especially on film projects)

    1. Thanks for all your support Tim. I just may take you up on that.🙂 As far as my doc film, I’m gonna start it out as a short film series and go from there. First subject: my daughter.

  4. Great post Ron. Thank you for being so transparent and real. I too have a constant battle in my mind and soul (I hate the flesh sometimes!). I have deemed 2011 as my year of prayer… need to do more, say more, trust more. I can see how God has blessed me in my business but so often I forget to thank him for it. A dear friend of mine runs a construction company and he & I are both leaders at our church. I asked him last week how he can be passionate about BOTH running a business and chasing after the Lord. It can seem hard sometimes. I am very excited for this year, my wife & I are trusting God for some big things… the biggest thing for us is to grow closer to the Lord. @Kevin Swan, I totally agree with the priorities you listed, when I have those balanced I experience real peace in my life. – Dan

    1. I can assure you Dan that pursuing success in business is not mutually exclusive to pursuing God. As Kevin pointed out, as long as your priorities are straight, you’ll be fine.

  5. Ron,
    I’ve been reading your blog ever since I met Tasra at POSH. I always look forward to the next time you post. This is a very inspiring post for me as I am just starting out in this whole video/filmmaking/photography thing and am a little unsure of myself at this point. Thanks for putting this stuff out there to encourage and push others to ponder these things. I believe these ponderings is what makes our art better.

    Keep it up.

    Regina

    1. Thanks for reading Regina. You’ll find out, as I have, that this is business of creating art is one in which you will repeated feel like you’re just “starting out.” Today it’s HDSLRs. Tomorrow it’ll be 3D. There’s always some new way of doing things that will inspire you to push yourself. It’s also a good idea to reinvent yourself every now and then anyway.

  6. I’m reading this now, but I’m on the flip side. All I do is personal work and you have helped legitimize me in business. Proverbs 27:17 We are gonna start a movement bro. Make films and touch hearts. Exciting!

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