The mess that is everything

What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications — Nora Ephron

It seems as I get older, I find myself walking down a path that is leading me towards opportunities to do what amounts to as my personal definition of ‘everything’. Everything I’ve wanted to do, everything I daydreamed about or never really considered doing because I never saw it as a real option.

That’s exciting. Occasionally, I find myself envying those who have found what makes them happy at an early age. I’m referring to people in their 20s or younger. They’re the ones who get to live the next 50 or 60 years pursuing and doing what they love. A lifetime of living the dream, as it were.

Every time I find myself envying those folks, I have to remind myself that my journey in this life is tailored specifically for me. There is a reason the opportunities I see in front of me (and the ones I can’t see just yet) are appearing now instead of 20 years ago. Everything that has come before is leading to now and the future. So, yeah, I’m excited where it could all lead to.

I still maintain the right to not reveal everything going in my life in this blog. I wouldn’t call it being mysterious. That’s a romantic notion. Romantic notions make me cringe. I call it being vague. I call it keeping it close to the vest. And some might accuse me of being a horrible tease. I prefer vague.

Ephron was right about doing everything and how it will be messy and complicated but you must embrace it and not shy away from it. Depending on what it is, it isn’t hard to embrace the mess and complicated nature of doing ‘everything’ or at least being prepared to do ‘everything’.

For me, the trick is to organize enough of the mess so that it can be somewhat managed. Or at least keep track of it. I’m used to a little chaos. There is always a way to ground yourself when you find yourself walking into a mess that you’ve created or is not entirely of your own doing.

Now, I’m finding my organizational/time management skills are being challenged because the nature of the mess is a little different than what I’m used to. Or it could be that it’s been that long since I had been challenged in that way. I’ll think about it later.

I suppose a follow-up question to this is ‘Would I be happier if everything wasn’t so damned messy?’ Answer: No. For me (and not everyone would agree), there is a fine line between less messy and boring. I don’t think there is a way to straddle that line comfortably. Either it’s one or the other. I consider messy being the lesser of the two evils.

Boring leads to nothing but trouble. Boring leads to a desire to get yourself into some sort of mess. And sometimes, you don’t get to choose that mess.

Does that mean I have a penchant for trouble? If I’m around certain individuals, yes. Other than that, I would have to say no, I don’t have a penchant for trouble. I just have an aversion to boredom. There’s a difference.

So, for the foreseeable future, boredom looks to be a passing ship in the night. Although, it won’t hesitate to come in to dock for short durations. I can’t tolerate stopovers for any extended length of time. The sooner boredom sets sail the better off I am. Good thin doing a whole lot of everything leaves no time for boredom… just time management issues. I can’t avoid that. Those issues are probably mandatory.

Oh well. That’s the price for doing everything.

Playtime desired

The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection, there is no story to tell — Ben Okri

Because I accepted the challenge of writing my first screenplay, I’ve been slightly obsessed, for the last few weeks, with finding movies — feature and short — to watch. Or at least add them to my ever-growing ‘to-watch’ film list.

I have four feature films I’d like to watch, hopefully, this week, assuming I can find the time. The four films in question are Milk, American Gigolo, Neruda and Lust, Caution. It’s a diverse list. I threw in American Gigolo just because I needed to see what I was missing out on when the film hit theatres and I was only 12 years old. All four films are rentals. If I like them enough, I just might want to own a copy of them.

And then, there is Wong Kar-Wai’s classic In the Mood for Love. From the snippets I’ve seen of the film, it is visually sumptuous and I’m in the mood to be seduced by what the director has to offer and to discover his deftness as a storyteller. I managed to find a copy of the film and I’m looking forward to watching it.

Because of the diversity of the viewpoints of these directors, I’m excited to discover how they spin and weave a story on screen. I’ve already viewed a number of short films online at a site called shortoftheweek.com. There are some beautiful gems on that site. So much to absorb and to think about. The art of storytelling is endless fascinating to me.

And I desperately need to play with my characters. It’s annoying that I’m still so busy. Maybe I can finally start shifting focus onto my boys and girls. I’m somewhat surprised they’re not harassing me every waking moment.

I suppose a reason for this could be I’m already engaged in the silly nonsense of looking longingly at my playmates while I’m doing something I don’t want to do. It’s not one of those hideous lovelorn looks two people give each other. It’s more like ‘You know I’d prefer to spend time with you, getting into all sorts of trouble, rather than doing whatever responsible adult thing I’m doing right now, right?’

All work and no play make for lack of writing bliss. Boo. Yeah, I want regular playtime with my characters. If you met them, you would want to play with them, too. However, it’s an exclusive relationship. We’re all mutually possessive of each other and we’re not particularly concerned with how dysfunctional that sounds.

Gotta make this short. I need to put in my playtime.

Taking risks

Creative risk taking is essential to success in any goal where the stakes are high. Thoughtless risks are destructive, of course, but perhaps even more wasteful is thoughtless caution which prompts inaction and promotes failure to seize opportunity — Gary Ryan Blair

As an artist — be it writer, painter, musician — creative risk taking is essential if you want to grow regardless of how high the stakes may or may not be. Figuring out how to do something is one thing. Taking what you’ve learned and throwing yourself into something that allows you to use that skill set in something you haven’t experienced before, is altogether exciting and terrifying.

In my own little way, I’ve always been a risk taker. Not the kind that puts you in mortal danger, unless you consider horseback riding life-threatening. I’m referring to the kind that takes you out of your comfort zone, where you discover something new about yourself.

Someone once joyfully (and I mean that in the most positive way) described me as having a reckless confidence. Reckless, not thoughtless. There’s a difference. In all my time here on this blue planet, no one had ever described me that way. I can be a lot of things. And I know I have been described as a lot of things. And I own all of it. And I really love owning reckless confidence.

Anyway, the risk taker in me has always been there. It only shows up when an opportunity or idea (good and bad) seizes my attention. I’d like to think these days that the opportunities or ideas are more good than bad. I’ve had my share of bad ideas when I was younger.

Without a doubt, my risk taking has unnerved some family members and friends. But only because they’re looking out for me. More often than not, my risk taking is a source of entertainment for these folks (my friends, in particular)… once I get around to informing them about what I’ve done.

Writing has allowed me, and is allowing me, to creatively take risks. Writing has opened doors to opportunities and interesting ideas that would have never appeared if I was doing something else.

The latest risk (it’s more of a challenge, quite honestly) which is to try screenwriting has me excited. I’ve been reading up on the subject, doing a little research and finding valuable resources before I start barreling into it, before I have to figure out how to juggle two writing projects. This isn’t a case of finish one and start on the other. Something tells me I need to work on both of them concurrently.

As I do the research, I sincerely believe working on the screenplay will only enhance my work as a novelist. That is exciting to me. I live for this kind of shit. I can’t wait to go through the process. Could be one helluva ride. It will definitely add to, and sharpen my skill set. It will make me a better writer, a better storyteller.

Start up the rollercoaster. Let’s go!