In 4 weeks I go back to Ireland and finally start cameras rolling on 10 Days in December. Albeit a proof-of-concept, it is a start. Maryann and I have been working on getting this project off the ground for almost 2 years. This one is difficult on many levels. First, the logistics. This film is set in Ireland, we live in California. Second, the time, we work full-time jobs, we have two young kids, our days start at 6:30am, and we finally get to sit down to write at about 9:30/10pm. So it's taken a while to get to this point. Third, it's personal. This is out story, about how we fell in love. So trying to keep a distance and tell a story that isn't just a nepotistic walk down memory lane, but an engaging and compelling story, has been a challenge.
But there was a fourth challenge, one I didn't even realized had been a factor until recently. But it had been there all along. It was an anxiety I had been carrying around, distracting me, annoying me, worrying me and it came in the form of many things. Chief among them, Donald Trump, but also the war in Syria, the refugee crisis, further terrorist attack, mass shootings, the protest at Standing Rock, Brexit, the Irish election (if that really what it was), and on and on and on. Evey time I turned on the news, or looked at Facebook there was something else, and with it a sense that the thread our society is hanging by was beginning to fray. A foreboding that something was going terribly wrong in the world, getting worse day by day and that there was nothing I could do about it.
When I looked helplessly, desperately, at that young boy on a beach in Turkey, at the young boy in the back of an ambulance in Aleppo, one drowned, one covered in dust with a gash in his head from the latest bomb that hit his city - this is what happens if you leave, this is what happen when you stay, I saw utter hopelessness. And a shared feeling of hopelessness, as I sat in my comfortable apartment, my comfortable life, with my own children of the same age as those poor kids, living happy, healthy, safe lives. I don't feel guilt over that, don't get me wrong, I feel nothing but gratitude, I feel lucky. But I wish there was something more I could do than donate to a charity. Where I feel ok for a second, but then I wonder where that money actually goes? To the shiny fliers and postage they start sending me every month, to the staffed phone calls and emails I start getting asking for more... the feeling is short lived. Did I save a life? Or pay for years subscription of fliers? - It only adds to the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. What can I do?
Then on this side of the water, we have the ugliest, most vile, election I can remember in my lifetime. It was embarrassing, distasteful, disgusting. I had no interest in either candidate. I suppose there was a lesser of two evils, one more tolerable than the other. A case of better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't. But what choice is that to have? I tried to escape it, ignore it, but it was impossible. You get drawn in again and again, and in the end, it just sucks the energy out of you, all positive thought and hope for the future, gone. But how do I have an effect? How do I change anything? I can't even vote, in this country or in my own. Hopeless. Helpless. What can I do?
Tonight I found the answer to that question. No, I didn't find it, it was here all along. I just remembered it. I can do what I've always done - I can create.
I can build something, write something, draw something, paint something, sing something, I can create. I can put something good into the world. I can gather my ideas, my energy, my friends, the goodwill of strangers, an audience, belief, hope, goodness, laughter, joy, and put it all together to create something new, positive, wonderful and put that into a room, in front of people, to remind them that this world is not falling apart, not so long as we keep building and creating and believing and giving and hoping and of course, loving.
We can't turn our back on what's going on in the world, I'm not talking about ignoring all this, we need to shine a light on it. But let us not allow it to drag us down, to dampen our hearts, our spirit, our resolve to keep going. Let us rise up, stay true to who we are, what we believe in and create. Do more today than you did yesterday. Make that call. Write that page. Sing that song. Believe in yourself and do the things you were meant to do. Because that is what the world needs right now. That nagging doubt inside you, the one telling you you're not good enough, you can't do this, you'll never amount to anything... that's the energy that's alive and thriving in the world right now. It's called fear. And what happens when you let fear in? It cripples you, stops you from doing anything. But what happens when you remove fear? You create.
We've been made afraid. We've been told we're wrong, we're not good enough, to conform and be silent, to live in a box and watch a box that feeds us this shit over and over. We fall for it because it's comfortable, but the human body was not designed to be comfortable. We were not designed to sit. We were designed to run. And yes, running is painful, but what happens when you sit? You get fat, you get sick, you slow down, you stagnate, you die. What happens when you run? Yeah, you get strong. So start running, running toward the thing that fear is telling you will never reach. Because fuck fear, you will reach it, it's simple physics, you move toward something, you reach it. It's just hard work. And what happens when you work hard at something? You get better, you get stronger.
Now is the time to step up. Now is the time to plan, to start putting things into action. And it doesn't have to be life altering, you don't have to quit your job, even if you hate that job, you don't have to sell your house or move cities. You just have to stay true to you, and listen to you, and believe in you and do one small thing everyday, one page, one drawing, one song, one kind word, one phone call to someone you haven't spoken to in a while. Sounds hokey? Sure it is, it's a fucking Frank Capra movie, but it's hope, it's love, it's putting good into the world. And here's the crazy side effect of putting good into the world, not only do you make the world and better place, but you feel better too. Much better than you do after a night of ranting about Donal Trump on Facebook!
To the creatives reading this, this is a rallying call - Let's create. Let's build stuff. Let's paint stuff. let's write songs. Many of you are doing it already, and fair play to you, keep it up, you're heroes, your efforts are worthwhile, just keep going. And to those doubting yourselves, and I include myself among you, step out of the shadow of the fear that surrounds you, because that's all it is, not a wall, not a cage, only a shadow, step away, into the light and create.
Maybe we can't rescues those fallen in Syria, we can't predict when the next terrorist attack will comes, we don't know what the next four years of Trump will bring, but don't be hopeless, don't feel helpless, because it is not hopeless, you are not helpless, so long as you keep dreaming and believe and building the world can be a better place. So...
Don't hate. Create.