3 Year Leap on the Unaltered Skip of the Stone
A newsletter post
This is a photo I posted while on a beach in El Salvador, Dec. 31, 2019:
Here is the accompanying text of that post:
Last Sunlight of 2019
To be honest, the 2010-2019 decade for me was great, and also was when I realized how nice and comfortable my life really is. I started my career, went all over the world, met a wonderful and significant girl, and generally rocked. The worst thing that happened was that the politics in my country went from broken to FUBAR, and I do really believe beyond repair, and it didn't much affect me personally because I am a cis white middle class male with a profession. Regarding that, my focus politically is to try to enable everyone to have a life as comfortable and nice as mine. I can't really personally complain about much.
I am sitting in a surf resort in El Salvador with a German, a Brazilian, my mother, and my girlfriend waiting for a beach party after we ate a hunk of glazed ham and drank a bottle of Chilean wine. Who the hell am I to worry about myself? I think my energy is much better put toward helping others.
I have goals for next year and next decade but they're not far off course from anything else I have been striving for last year and last decade. I didn't really think this New Year's was too meaningful until I took this very picture. I think this picture is about as meaningful as an arbitrary calendar sales event gets. It is enough for me, for now.
The fact is, the pandemic didn’t really change that trajectory of my life that much. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure I would have suffered the same types of burn-outs and the same types of inspirations over the next three years. I probably would have married my wife sooner, being that I was nosing around for the engagement ring at about the time the lockdowns started.
Even as COVID settles into a seasonal endemic disease, I know I can set aside the notion that life has altered course for me personally. In fact one of my gripes about how the issue was discussed was people’s general misunderstanding that pandemics are in any way rare or exceptional. COVID was in no way surprising to anyone who spent any time thinking about SARS, avian bird flu, H1N1, malaria, ebola, antibiotic resistant bacteria, or the history of disease. In other words anyone with any sort of curiosity in the world. The main reason it ‘surprised’ the US is the US had a good half century or more of institutional handling of these things that it purposefully chose to deprecate, and that’s not a statement against any single administration but our culture as a whole.
Three years after my El Salvador post, my life is thriving and my responsibility is to helping others more than worrying about myself. The big lesson since then is that helping others is only helpful and only works if someone asks for it. This lesson greatly focused my energies.
I do in fact use the end of the year for some sort of consolidation, review, and look ahead on things like my goals, my wants, my plans. It doesn’t always land on the new year.
Most of the time the media and film production industry shuts down after October. From a post-production perspective, there is a surge of editing and deliveries needed by Thanksgiving or mid-December, and then things don’t start up again whole hog until after February. Thus, my review and planning normally end up kicking in around the first of December, and I’m well on my way to starting my “New Years Resolutions” a month before a new calendar year begins.
This year I thought the process would be delayed until the beginning of February, because I have had family responsibilities, work, and travel plans through then. This last week, however, gave me a surprising amount of time to sit with my daily journaling and work through some stuff. So I find myself at a rare conjunction where my personal year and the calendar year sync.
I’m not going to tell you my personal plans. But here is a loose summary of my creative ones (my actual list is far more specific but you don’t need to know it):
Edit the short film I shot in November
2nd draft of my feature script
Festival releases of the shorts I’ve shared on this Substack
On-Demand releases of the content I’ve created so far
New feature script
Two short scripts
New website (and possibly moving this whole Substack situation over to it and hosting it myself)
Keeping up with the STSC Symposia
If you think that I think I’ll actually achieve all of that, you’re mistaken. I’m certain that by Dec 2023 I will have achieved things I didn’t even think about on this list and half of this list will have disappeared from my consciousness entirely. I will not be doing an autopsy of this list or something next year where I checked off the things as intended, “see how setting goals helps you achieve?” That stuff never worked for me, and I’m surprised this year I have goals or plans that even relate to specific tasks.
It’s not ever really about the lists. “This year I go to the gym everyday” is metonym for “I don’t feel healthy.” “This year I quit my job” is metonym for “I am not feeling fulfilled in my career.” By the end of the year, you will probably have taken action to deal with those feelings in some way; they just may not be the specific goal you listed.
This end-of-year lookback stuff is really only useful to make sure that there isn’t something you’re so deeply missing in your life that it’s causing distress or suffering. My self-reflection indicates that I’m still needing more creative engagement than I currently have, somehow.
The rest of my life is spiffy and if creativity is the only thing I’m wanting, then I have no complaints.
Indulging a Second Look is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.