Dear Cemetery Mary,
I am in a position where I am deciding whether or not to bury my dream or continue pressing forward, despite how hopeless it seems at the moment. I, too, had grandiose dreams of greatness, but mine were of directing and the lifestyle that comes with such a position. Since college, I have declined a full time job and remained freelancing, living “hand to mouth” in order to have time to devote to shooting film projects, which were not just time-consuming, and required the non-stop begging of favors of fellow collaborators, but expensive as well, despite receiving said favors. I juggled freelancing, working simply “to make money” in order to spend that remaining time shooting and directing, and what I thought at the time, “investing” that money in myself and my “dream”. I received many positive accolades for my work, but yet, have not yet been able to get signed with representation that would make me viable for the commercial jobs I dreamt of directing ever since I stepped foot onto a film set.
For the last few years, I was always the girl with no money. Always looking for the least expensive item on the menu. Thinking twice when meeting up with friends, even with simple things like going to a movie. Always parking my beat up car around the block, avoiding any sort of doctor or dentists office. And for awhile, I felt like those things were part of my bigger cause. This past year, in an effort to take a big leap and “play a bigger game,” I was accepted into a small (in number of participants) but recognized program in the industry I have been trying to break into. After spending pretty much what I had in hopes of that big “reel” that I expected to bring with it representation and open doors into the world of commercial directing, I find myself right now in a downward spiral of depression. My inbox is empty and my cell phone sits silent on top of my desk. Maybe I haven’t given it everything I have, and maybe I need to continue.
But I feel spent. I am ready for a more balanced lifestyle, one without the constant worry and anguish. After weeks of sitting in my apartment, alternating between the desk, my phone, and my bed, I am finally bringing myself to write about my reflections on what is happening. I truly appreciate what you did with your book burial ceremony, and the website, and the articles, and I just felt you were such an appropriate person to share my story with. I would love to figure out how to turn some of the ideas you mentioned in your article “What the hell? The Secret Didn’t Work,” into something tangible and concrete for my every day life in order to move on, such as “let[ting] go of your idea about how something was supposed to happen to give it a real chance to succeed.” Even accepting that ““Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.”
Its hard to imagine that I’m supposed to be sitting here, hopeless, despair, feeling like a loser..etc. But I think I am ready to find out what’s next. How to move on and forward. How to get to the life I was meant to live.
Director Seeking Direction
WOW, you’ve done a lot to pursue your dream. And then, while wildly twisting in the sheets of your own pity party, you had the wherewithal to seek help. Plus, you had the good sense to come to me, the Empress of all Pity Partiers (Did I not throw myself a funeral?) Let’s take a moment to give you a big attagirl.
Okay. Let’s get to work. Your dream sounds lovely, fascinating, intriguing. But I want to check something. You said that you wanted to pursue “directing and the lifestyle that comes with such a position.” That was the little nugget that caught my attention and I offer it back to you to chew on for awhile. Which part of you wants to pursue this dream to express yourself at the deepest level of your soul, and which part of you is into this “lifestyle.” I ask only because Cemetery Mary believes we are here to bring forth great creations (much like our good Mother Nature) that will make the world a more enchanting experience, and to enjoy ourselves while doing it (not that some sacrifice and crap work won’t be required). But I’ve spent enough time with my own ego, that I know it sometimes takes over and yearns for the things that I think my success will “get me.” I would spend some time meditating on how you feel when you do the work that is required of your dream, and really decide if the passion is there for the pleasure and purpose of the work side more so than the results and payoff side. (Not that I have anything against big payoffs, but at my age/stage of life, having fun or feeling satisfied with work is the place I put my attention.)
That said, dang girl, you’ve worked hard so — as they say at my cool Oakland church — don’t quit before the miracle. You might be two seconds from the finish line and not be able to see it because of your disappointment is blocking the view. It may be time to make some adjustments, but my assessment is that it is too soon to bury your dream. Instead, bury the worry and anguish, hopelessness and despair. Have a full on ceremony to let those vampires go and when you hear them yammering on in your mind at any time, just blow them kisses. They are big blowhards and don’t deserve to take up too much of your time.
How to get rid of these pests worry and anguish? Well certainly you’ve got to take care of yourself better financially because you deserve to go to the doctor and dentist and a movie once in awhile. Google Maslov’s hierarchy of needs and make sure you have the ones at the foundation and, FYI, it does include sex, which I think is mighty cool. Starting now you need to eat fresh healthy food, exercise, find a decent paying job and pour yourself and all the creativity you have into this work — what ever it turns out to be. Working jobs just to make money strangles the meaning out of life–or at least has us believing life must be postponed until…until what? No matter what job you take, use every moment of your working life to express yourself to the best of your ability (ie; you can’t hide behind the idea that what ever you are doing isn’t your “real job” thus you don’t have to be fully present.)
Delight in your well paid job, get your teeth cleaned, walk in the sunshine, have a laugh with a friend, and sex with someone cute (or something with batteries) and continue to pursue your dream, even if at a different pace. I don’t know what that pace is, as I also did the “throw myself completely into the project technique” and it led me to create the cemetery of dead dreams (meanwhile I also picked up a great job I never expected or planned for and it supports me and leaves time for funeral planning and answering advice requests.)
Are you supposed to be depressed? OF COURSE YOU ARE. Things have to get pretty nasty for us to actually take a large enough risk to really change our lives. (Did we not just see that in our political arena? How ridiculous would things have to be for this country to have the strength to elect Obama?)
You are EXACTLY where you are supposed to be. You are composting. And decomposing is not painless or easy, just ask the caterpillar before he gets to be that great big beautiful flying winged thing.
Your homework is to go out every day and pay attention to nature. It is winter. The sky pours out the tears, the landscape looks empty and desolate, but meanwhile there is much important work going on that is simply not obvious to the eye.
Don’t be stressin’ about a little depression.
Good luck and check in next spring to tell me how you are flowering.
Rest in peace and joy,