I just watched the movie A Thousand Times Good Night. It’s one of those stories I believe had to be told. It’s not a movie you watch because it makes you feel so great whilst watching it. It’s a movie you watch because it hits the truth within yourself. Or maybe it just hits the truth within me. It reminds me of a childhood where I was often angry because I was left alone with my stepmom whilst my dad went away. I tried to protect my sister, but I know I failed. I know my sister still has scars because of the way our stepmom treated us. I guess I’m still battling the same battle. Only this time I’m trying to protect other children. The kids in the township and my own foster kids. At the same time I am the person who goes away. The person chasing my other dreams. And I believe in that. I don’t believe in sacrificing what makes you happy, because what kind of life will you live if you give up happiness? What will you teach your children if you give up on your own dreams?
The movie is about a war photographer, who has two children and a husband. Her family is fed up with her job. Yet, she keeps pursuing it. Because she wants to fight the war in her own way. She has an anger inside of her towards the world and this is her way of fighting it. Of fighting injustice. At the same time maybe that anger is not about fighting injustice, maybe it’s just self-destructive. Besides when you have a passion there is this thing within you that makes you pursue it, no matter what pretty much. Because if you don’t… You fade away. It is as if you stop existing. I don’t know what life would be like if I would not have creative ideas chasing me 24 seven; wanting to be expressed. It’s a problem really. It’s a great thing when I get to express to them. When I have to do a job that’s not about my own ideas, that’s just not very nice. It makes me unhappy. So it’s a constant battle. You have to reach a point where you make a living from your passion, or be unhappy. There’s no middle way. Or maybe there is actually – for me writing for others I guess is that middle way. Before I found writing I used to think I was doomed. I was doomed because I didn’t know how to make a living from something that I didn’t hate. Feeling like only creative freedom can make you happy and not having the tools to get there is a bit of a problem. For some thinking that “I just have to wait five years and work my way there” might work very well. But when you virtually hate your job, five years does not sound like a great thing. So today I consider myself very very lucky to be able to write. And I can see how you can work your way up to become a writer that writes for yourself. Write articles you want to write. Be a contributor. Choose your articles. I love telling stories, I just want to be able to tell my own stories. For now this blog is my forum for that.
I believe in solutions. I believe there is a way of living your dreams and having a family. I believe there is a way of running my own company and still being active in Little Angels. In fact I believe running a company will make my contribution to Little Angels all that much better. I even believe it’s possible to live between Los Angeles and Cape Town. And maybe unlike the woman in that movie, I definitely believe you can tell stories without risking your own life. That’s not to say that the stories she told didn’t need to be told. They did need to be told. Someone needed to tell them. Maybe just not someone with a husband and two children. And just like the movie implied, not unlike a suicide bomber, she was sacrificing her own safety for a perceived higher good. A higher good her family could not quite understand, because they wanted to be the higher good. Yet she was creating a better world for them. Just like I used to wish my dad would sacrifice his job for me and he thought he was working to provide for me.
You can’t escape your own passions, nor your dreams. So my advice to anyone who has a passion, or a dream, is to go after it. But think about how you go after it. Pursue it in such a way that it helps you and others. Don’t sacrifice your life because of it. Build your life from it. Artists often get it wrong because not unlike an addict we will go after our passion at pretty much any cost. Don’t make your passion destructive. Make it something which enhances your life. Make it count.
I watched this movie because I had a feeling I had to watch it. I also had a feeling it might not be the most pleasant experience. It’s a beautiful movie. It’s an artwork. The cinematography is beyond belief. It’s stunning. And unlike most movies it makes sense. There’s logic to the illogical decisions some of the characters make. I started to realize, that if you’re always avoiding something, it’s because there’s something within you still broken. And instead of always watching comedies to try and make myself happy, I believe that there is something about what the Greeks said about tragedies. About connecting with the broken part of yourself and thereby letting it go. I don’t believe in reveling in pain, or continuously listening to music that’s melancholic, or watching depressing movies, but I do believe in facing something and then moving beyond it. And I believe that movies can unlock something within you and by doing so allow you to heal. I want to believe that movies can change lives. I want to believe it because movies, after all, are my favorite kind of expression.
When I go to bed tonight, I don’t want to be sad about what my stepmom did. Nor do I want to fear how difficult it can be to have a career and be a mom. I don’t want to worry about making the wrong decisions. Instead I want to focus upon what I’ve learned from my childhood and how I’m not putting it to use to help others. I want to focus and how my heart is making me happy. I want to focus on creating the life of my dreams, whereby I serve myself as well as others.
Scars, really, can become an artwork. If you heal them and learn from them. If you let them tell your story in such a way that it inspires yourself and others.
Image source: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/225320787576584914/