When the 1970s Weren’t So Long Ago

The most meaningful thing I did yesterday was watch 1970’s prime-time television. Two episodes of Rockford Files. Two episodes of Quincy. I’m beginning to understand what space aliens might feel like when they start digging up artifacts of our culture in a millennium or so.

I sort of remember the 1970s. I was six when I left ’em behind. Even then, I remember thinking how weird people dressed. I remember ugly couches and hideous wall paper. Unfortunately the 1980s’ over-reaction to the 1970s wasn’t exactly awesome.

I found myself watching those shows, and spending more time staring at the backgrounds – looking at the cars on the road, the architecture, the signage on the streets, and the people in the distance. They didn’t use seat belts and the cars couldn’t handle worth a shit in car chases because they had shitty suspension.

I remember long road trips with my parents in our 1974 Plymouth Fury. Big boat of a car. So big, I used to believe people lived inside the dash board, and they played music whenever Dad pushed a button on the radio. I remember crawling into the back window sill and going to sleep, while my brother splayed across the backseat. A quick look at the speedometer and the needle was hovering around 70 mph.

Not a care in the world.

Probably that was the best part of the 1970s. Nothing bad ever happened to me and I can’t remember a single thing that ever upset me – nothing worth remembering anyway.

Someday, 2014 will be thirty years away. I wonder how I’ll look back upon these times. I’ve got a load on my mind right now, but how much of it will stick? How many of those worries and deep thoughts, and random slights I feel, will make it into the future with me?

I seem to have developed a deep interest in my past. It’s certainly a theme that bubbles up in this blog from time to time. I don’t know how healthy that is, but it has to be somewhat good to think about.

Perhaps it’s time for a change in routine? Maybe I’ll dedicate some thoughts to my future. See how close I can come to realizing some dreams.

In the meantime, it feels like a good time to look at where I came from – where my family came from. I wonder if my mother, grandmother or great grandmother ever sat down and wondered where they’d wind up in thirty years time?

There’s got to be some lessons worth mining from that past.

Walking Off Epiphanies

Shoulder aches today. Old football injury.

It’s kind of neat to say that, since I was never very ‘jockish’ but I still have the battle scars to prove I once occupied a stall in a locker room in high school.

My injury was aggravated by leaning on my elbow while watching Netflix on my laptop in bed last night. For what it’s worth, I was leaning on my elbow in a very manly way.

Jazz had friends over last night and she wanted to take over the living room. For some reason, having her dad jawing away at the party was not something she looked upon with undiluted pleasure. So off to my room I went.

Today offers many possibilities, and I remain undecided. The sun is out and the city is rather quiet. I have to run some errands later, and I’m thinking a walk would be a great way to accomplish them.

I have things on my mind that I’d like to work through. Can’t quite seem to wrap my mind around any conclusions though. Sometimes thoughts just need time to burst into an epiphany. They’re best left alone until their time comes.

Still, it’s good to check in on their growth from time to time, and walks are a great means by which to check in.

Zen and the Art of Scheduling

Jazzy has a late start at school this morning, so that gave us time to sit together on the balcony. She read a book and I surfed the web. We both drank coffee.

There’s a list I found on Facebook last week – Zen Things to Do – or something like that. I took to memorizing the items on the list. I have Jazzy doing the same thing.

1. Do one thing at a time. 2. Do it slowly and deliberately. 3. Do it completely. 4. Do less. 5. Put space between things. 6. Schedule time for things. 7. Develop routines. 8. Make time for sitting.

I wrote those from memory. There’s more, but I haven’t gotten to them yet. This isn’t a high school drama class. It’s not enough to regurgitate a list – it must be understood.

So I’m setting out to understand the list I’m setting out to memorize. Before I start a task, I run through the list. When I’m going for a walk, I’m running through the list. When I’m completing a task, I’m running through the list.

I haven’t quite gotten it down into my bones yet. It hasn’t quite penetrated my way of being. It seems accomplishing Zen might take a little longer than expected.

I’ve scheduled completion for Friday at 3:30pm. After that I’ll spend some time on the weekend learning quantum physics.

Gigabytes of Past Memories

I signed a deal this week to distribute InJustice, Prairie Gardens, 100 Saskatchewan Stories, and Thunder Breeding Hills through McIntyre Media Inc. They specialize in putting documentary programming in schools. It’s possible the deal may be lucrative, but I’m not upgrading to gourmet ketchup anytime soon.

What most moved me about making that deal, is that it forced me to go nosing through old hard drives, looking for the master files, and their accompanying documents to those projects. Along the way were gigabytes of artifacts from my 17 year career – projects I pitched once upon a time, then slowly forgot about, or correspondence with people I hadn’t seen in many years, or spaces between the memories of the happenings in my life from so long ago.

I stumbled upon a video I made of Jazzy when she was three years old. Choked me up. I saw old business plans I wrote over the course of many months. I saw evidence of a side of me, I’ve long forgotten, and have since walked away from.

I remembered many of the things I forgot about.

And it made me kind of sad. And it made me wonder why.

Maybe I’m reminded of the passage of time. The past is a great place to learn from, but it’s no place to visit for any extended period of time. I do miss some of the people though.

I also remember a party I had – a celebratory party. My closest friends and family joined PJ and I in our first apartment together on Rochdale Blvd in Regina. I was just accepted into the Director’s Guild of Canada. I was young and my whole career was ahead of me – and being accepted into the Guild was a HUGE milestone.

As I got busy with those other projects I referenced earlier, I got away from working on film sets. I let my membership lapse. Then my priorities changed. And now I’m here in Toronto.

Single dad on the cusp of some great new thing in a brand new city. People are reading my scripts and they’re saying great things about ’em. I can feel how close I am to breaking through.

In the meantime, there’s another party to plan. I rejoined the Directors Guild on Friday, and I’m having people over to celebrate.

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s New Year’s Eve, 2013.

In the coming year, I think I’d like to read more. I always feel good about myself after reading a script, a novel, and/or some in-depth exploration of a topic. Perhaps I can find the time to read by turning off Netflix a little more frequently.

I’d like to spend 2014 writing a lot more often. Finding the time has always been my excuse, but really, the world won’t end if I spend at least two hours at the top of the day writing something. 

Trading on my writing will be another priority in 2014. I’ve been waiting around, trying to get into the CFC, but no more. Toronto is full of broadcasters, agents, and production companies. Everyone knows someone, and someone has got to be interested in optioning something I’m doing. I just gotta knock on a lot more doors.

I’m going to meet a ton of new people over the next twelve months. It’s always great to meet people. As said previously, everybody knows somebody, and relationships make the world go ’round. I want to fall into conversations with perfect strangers in coffee shops, then never see ’em again. I want to have meaningful exchanges with people who can influence my career. I want to share laughs with new friends.

I’m going to go deeper with friends who mean a lot to me, and worry a lot less about those who pollute my headspace.

I’m going to teach Jazzy something new every month – even if it means having to first learn something new, before I teach it.

I’m going to do my best to be a better person, both to myself, and to those around me.

I suspect that if I can accomplish all these things, 2014 will be a pretty good year.

Five Generations

Jazz and I spent the days leading up to Christmas going through old photos from Grama’s album to make the above video for the family. I knew it would go over well, and I couldn’t think of a better gift I could give for the holidays. I wasn’t expecting how much making this video would move me.

A story emerged unexpectedly over four generations from 1910-1976. Life and death. Joy and sorrow. A real slice of life. A peak into a series of moments frozen in time from my family’s history. I felt like I was touching that history with my finger tips every time I scanned a photo. I felt like I was seeing the thoughts captured in time, behind the eyes of those who thought them.

Most of them are long dead now. The video was proof that they once lived – fully and completely. I also think the experience was coloured somewhat by some unhappy news that landed unexpected.

We tend to think we have all the time in the world to connect with the loved ones in our lives – and then word comes down that the clock is ticking – that time is rapidly, running out.

Possibly anyway.

We won’t know the prognosis for a few days yet. Jazz and I will be on the highway, bound for Toronto when that news arrives.

I don’t quite know how to deal with it. It’s like if I change my patterns, it will be like I’m admitting the possibility that someone will die. If I just stay the same – keep doing things the same – maybe this will all go away. False alarm. Close call.

My life is 2,754 kilometres away. How’m I supposed to grieve from there? How’m I supposed to be from there? To act differently perhaps would be to admit that something was wrong with the relationship in the first place. To act differently, would be to BE differently when nothing was wrong to begin with.

I think I’ve said everything I’ve ever felt a need to say. I just wish I had all the time in the world to NOT say it.

The Fine Line to Self Awareness

I was walking passed a store the other day and saw a dog tied up outside the door. The owner was inside and the dog was content, waiting patiently for the day to unfold. As I approached, the dog kind of stuck his neck out. He wanted some affection, so I stopped to pet him.

As I sat there scratching him behind the ears, I was struck with a thought – why don’t people stick their necks out for affection from perfect strangers? Dogs are perfectly happy to receive affection from anyone. People, not so much.

Perhaps it’s because we’ve all been disappointed by people at one time or another. We can be hurt. The reward of affection just does’t outweigh the risks.

Is this a ‘normal’ state of being, or have we socialized ourselves into this walled off place?

Personally, I don’t really have a lot of affection for perfect strangers, unless they’re hot and I might be able to have sex with them at some future time (assuming they’re sporting a vagina). I don’t think I’m that different from most men in this regard.

I attended a ‘Peace Ceremony’ last night. The women in the room were all acquaintances Renee. We lit a smudge stick and meditated on a candle flame. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about being there. It was all a bit too earthy for my tastes. I prefer a little more yoga with my earthiness.

This room full of women were all familiar with each other, and they were all down with the ceremony. Me, I felt a little like the pee in a public swimming pool – invisible but present. Whenever the group leader would say something like, “let the energy ‘penetrate’ your heart…” my mind would go to a naughty place.

Out of respect for the vibe in the room, I don’t think I’ll be going back. They made me feel welcome, and I would feel comfortable sticking my neck out for affection from any one of them, but my headspace is in a different place at present.

I’m not sure if that’s something I need to change about myself, or merely accept and call self awareness.

Making It Personal

I feel like my blogging has changed since I began making my personal website more of an all-purpose corporate/personal website. I catch myself NOT saying some things about my life. I’m thinking more about who is reading this, and a lot less about how to express myself. As a result, I’ve become less interested in blogging on a regular basis.

Maybe I say ‘fuckit’ and just write what I want anyway. You want to work with me, you might as well see who I am, warts and all.

Maybe I just stop thinking about my audience altogether? I noticed a subtle shift in my thinking when I moved my blog from Apple’s iWeb server to WordPress. Suddenly my stuff was much more searchable and accessible to the world. I prefer my personal blog live in obscurity in most cases, but on the other hand, it’s nice to be read by people I don’t even know. What is the internet, if not a vast sea of anonymous people creeping on each other from a safe distance?

I guess I could shift my corporate stuff to a revamped Dacian site. The two sides of me used to be kept safely apart in publicly viewable spaces. Philosophically though, I think I’ve been moving towards something more unified. I am a writer and a filmmaker and a Jarrett.

Branding wise, this may cause confusion for people. It certainly isn’t quite ordered neatly in my mind either, but it feels like something I’m into. Gives my work a face and a heart to go with the resume and demo reel.

Once upon a time, Dacian had over 20 employees, depending on what we were doing production wise. We were pursuing corporate projects and TV projects, and sometimes, I wasn’t even the frontline contact on those projects. It made sense to keep things separate.

And what do I do now with my dusty old Dacian site? There must be some purpose it can serve. Perhaps that’s what’s going on with my headspace this morning. It feels like it’s time to address it, reshape it, rethink it, and/or otherwise deal with it. Perhaps in the coming weeks, the solution will simply come to me.

In the meantime I’m going to recommit to expressing myself in my personal blog, in a much more deeper, personal level.

Campstove Coffee Thoughts

I’m sitting on a ridge of Precambrian rock, millions of years old. There’s a forest growing around me. Young deciduous trees. Old coniferous growth. A fallen piece of driftwood – it must be driftwood – there’s nothing around that appears to be missing a limb. Musta been here a long time, judging from the moss growing on it.

I enjoyed my drive up yesterday. Four hours just to pitch a tent for the night. I think the trip was worth it. Plenty of other ways I could have otherwise spent that time, but not many of them would have led me to this particular headspace.

I made a list in my mind of every single problem I think I have in my life right now. There were a handful that remain unresolved.

I let them sit there a spell as the miles rolled past me. Acknowledged them, but didn’t pick at them. I let them percolate like campstove coffee. They always taste better when they’ve had time to wash over themselves.

After letting ’em cool, I took my first sip and discovered they needed more depth. Something to get at the root of ’em.

I drilled down. Hit bedrock.

The single greatest cause of anxiety in my life is me disappointing myself.

Doesn’t get much simpler than that. Time to make another list. Set goals and find some way to measure my progress.

As evidenced by some of my accomplishments this year, I can be that kind of person in short bursts. It’s time to be that somebody with greater regularity.

Imagine what that would taste like.



Following Up On Simplicity

One thing at a time, one day at a time. That notion would be a photograph of my ideal lifestyle, and for the most part, 2013 has been incredibly satisfying because I’ve been able to live up to that ideal.

There’s been some luck involved. A bit of instinct too. Perhaps even some self-awareness operating at a subconscious level, groomed after many years of fucking up the nuanced delicate finesse of it all. I think I’m finding the handle.

These were my thoughts as I walked the conference floor yesterday. Event planners, and event industry suppliers from around the world filled vast swaths of space at Direct Energy Centre here in Toronto. I had no idea that I would even be there only a few days ago, and yet there I was, walking the among the mass of humanity with clarity of purpose.

I suppose it all started from scratch a couple weeks ago, looking up a few directories with lists of event planners in Toronto. I’ve maintained a spreadsheet ever since of names, numbers, contact dates, and follow-up notes. Most importantly, I’ve managed to stay on top of the follow-up. Fifty-six names on that list so far. Most have indicated a desire to use me sometime down the road.

I’ve managed to keep my understanding of what I’m trying to accomplish, clear to myself.

This isn’t about money. This isn’t about growing my business. This isn’t even about ‘opportunity’.

It’s about listening.

One thing at a time, one day at a time. Period.

Sometimes it’s necessary to drill deeper into what we’re trying to accomplish and why. I’ve pursued all manner of projects throughout my career with mixed success. Some things were quite profitable. Others were a complete waste of time. Others yet, were simply impossible to measure, in terms of their value to my growth as a person creature.

I’ve figured out what I’m good at. I’ve figured out what I enjoy. I’ve figured out what separates me from my competition – to use a business term. Most importantly, I’ve figured out how it all connects to that much deeper simplicity that I’ve been on about.

Every single person I’ve reached out to, have been beyond impressed with my work. They’ve never seen anything like it. Quite simply, if I reach out to a sufficient number of potential clients, and convert a small percentage of those into actual clients, success will be inevitable.

I collected 10 business cards yesterday. All of them are strong leads. One was even referred to me from a previous contact I made. How’s that for leaving an impression?

So what does this have to do with one thing at a time, one day at a time? What does all this activity, hand-shaking, and follow-up with innumerable potential clients have to do one simple mantra?

It’s about waking up in the morning, watching the neighbourhood whilst holding a cup of coffee in my hand, and breathing in the day. Let my mind fall into clarity. Let me pluck from a vast inventory of writing and editing projects I’ve grown for myself to work on – to enable myself to wake up in the morning, to watch the neighbourhood, to breathe in the day.