When it comes to New Years, of course we all want them to start off ‘fresh’. But I’ve learned in these first few weeks, unfortunately, that not all fresh produce is welcome…
Cue the lemons.
One after another life throws them–from the trees, the neighborhood fruit carts, the Brooklyn rooftop gardens–until you’re absolutely drowning in the clean scented, canary flesh of unexpected problems.
I don’t know about you, but I can only make lemonade so fast, and the busier I get the more terrible it’ll come out. Though, make lemonade we must in the writer’s world. Even though I’m making amazing progress in understanding my TV pilot, gearing up to write my first treatment, and starting to write more consistently (in theory…), life outside of the Gotham classrooms is not always paved in progress.
Recently, I had a talk with a close friend and fellow creative trying to make it in this crazy world, and they gave me some great
advice empathetic reasoning.
It’s a roller coaster until you finally reach your aspiration. The path is less “normal”, less “practical”.
Roller coasters are the epitome of everything that terrifies me. They’re loud. They’re fast. They impair your senses, take you by surprise, and flip you upside down. Plus, if you’re not the greatest daredevil (i.e. Me), they generally expose and embarrass you once people catch a glance at your hysterically screaming, ugly crying mug.
The first time I ever went on a roller coaster was totally by accident.
I was 18, on my Senior Trip to Dorney Park. After my friends and I had frolicked through the park, eating junk food and palling around with Snoopy, we got on line for what we thought was an edgy theater show. Soon we began to hear the faint sounds of screaming… The screaming grew louder and louder…still, everything seemed fine? Eventually one of us (not me) worked up the teenage courage to ask a random guy what the heck we were–now trapped–in line for. Turns out it was a massive indoor roller coaster.
We were all frightened little girls. But it was too late to turn back; the line behind us was thrice as long as the death train in front of us. Anxiety took all the way over.
There we were, arguing about the proper way to escape the line, when our turn pounced upon us. Immediately, one of my friends asked, “Which way is the exit?” The attendant pointed judgmentally to the right, and she was off. The rest of us stood there dumbfounded and ditched, as the surge of the line drew us forward toward the waiting cars.
The following description of events is a direct metaphor for the creative journey I find myself in presently:
Without much forethought, I gathered all my courage and stepped into the coster. Unlike the dignified silence of an action hero who stoically faces her fear, this moment was filled with my incessant, stress-ridden, self-encouraging blather.
“I can do this. We can do this. What’s so scary about roller coasters anyway? I’m brave. I don’t care that it’s dark. I’m totally ready . This seat belt isn’t very tight. I’m sure it’s fine. Are they gonna count down or something? I am definitely not going to throw up. Does anyone else feel like they might throw up? This is all gonna work out, I’m sure of it–”
I was torpedoed into a dark, alien-themed, twisty-turny ride during which I mostly screamed or impulse talked. Much like my day-to-day life, the ride was filled with unexpected twists and turns that I weathered despite the fear of the unknown.
By the end of it, I felt energized and proud. Sure it was scary, but it was also exhilarating. I’d found the moments to live for in the ordeal: the unexpected corkscrew, the light at the end of a tunnel, a free bottle of wine from the Gotham office. During the smooth patches I was even stable enough to provide positive reflective commentary (“See? This isn’t so BAAAAAAAAAAAAADDD!!!!”)
Is the writer’s life not just that? Being thrown headfirst into this crazy ride full of doubt and determination, confusion and courage?
Sure life throws you a pile of lemons every once and a while, but who’s to say you can’t take one from the bottom and ride the avalanche til you get by?
No one, that’s who!
Alright that’s enough …