I am back in Toronto after a 26 hour drive through the US. It was one of my most enjoyable road trips ever. My headspace remains elevated to a higher place – still turning with all the contemplations though all those miles.
Prior to departing, I bought Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig on audiobook. It’s the most read philosophy book of all time. Used to carry the paperback version around for a year wherever I went. Never made it past chapter 10. I would always read a chapter, and by the half way point, my mind would be so full of stirrings inspired by the book, that I couldn’t concentrate anymore on what was written down.
More than anything, I feel like I am about to write a new chapter in my own life. Been feeling it coming on for some time. It’s a chapter that would have been impossible to write without living through my most recent experiences in Toronto this past year.
In the book, Pirsig talks about a ‘moment of crystallization’ – the singular moment when a particular character’s journey down a philosophical discourse was born. My own moment of crystallization took place a few days ago over coffee with Chrystene.
I’ve said on many occasions that I am my career. I go as my career goes. Chrystene kind of frowned when I said that to her. She thought it was a horrible way for me to describe myself. I am a writer, producer, and director – a genuine creative type – but I am not cash flow forecasts, marketing, strategic planning, business schtick, etc. I’m only fooling myself if I think I am.
I confessed that I felt like I lost something over the past year. I came to Toronto with so much piss and vinegar. Made a sale to CBC, had a sitcom going into production, finished a screenplay, and developed two other series. Things never panned out the way I expected they would, and over time, the whole thing beat my sense of myself to a pulp. Chystene said that when we first started working together a few years ago, she felt I was supremely confident. I believed I could do anything. I was bullet proof.
She said I was now a more softer, more disillusioned Jarrett. She liked this version of me better. She asked me to consider the possibility that losing that part of myself, might be a gift. As soon as the words left her mouth, something began to crystallize.
I’ve been struggling to find balance between all the different aspects of myself, from career stuff, to self exploration, to love, to fatherhood, to creativity, to practical considerations, to matters of ego, and much more. I’ve been holding so rigidly to a certain idea of myself, that I never considered the possibility that I was fooling myself.
I am a vessel with no motor, riding the current of the river. We all are (though some of us fail to see things that way). I am packed with all my baggage and none of it fits neatly together. It’s all accumulated over time, and has never really been pulled apart to see if there are better ways to balance the load.
The journey from Regina to Toronto took just over 26 hours. The book is 15 hours long. I still never made it all the way though. Had to keep shutting it off. Let the wheels in my head turn, just as those on my car were doing. Betcha I drove at least 8 of those hours in complete silence.
I am a happier, more malleable version me today, at this moment. I intend to unpack every aspect of my life, look at it under the light, sit, look at it some more, and then maybe see how I feel about taking it back on again.
In the meantime, there are some practical considerations to consider. These are the simplest to figure out of all. Big ideas and lofty goals take time. Until then, I need to make as much money as possible, by doing as little as possible, which will leave me time to attend to these other considerations.
My current gig fits the bill nicely. I enjoy my work, I’m good at it, and it comes naturally to me. I no longer feel an urgent need to push it aside in favour of more impressive goals. To be clear, I’m not giving up on my ambitions, I’m just affording myself the time to examine them. More than anything, I need to make sure I’m coming to them from an honest place.