Monday, July 23, 2007

The Lesson

Nothing’s ever convenient in a life that’s packed wall to wall with obligations and goals. When a cog in this ridiculous machine comes loose something out of the usual schedule, say a family visit, becomes even less convenient.

I’d been doing my best to keep up on all my various writing projects, care for my animals, keep my house clean and handle the tasks of my side job that (barely) pays the bills. In general I do all this with the motto of do no harm. I try to do good deeds, help when I can and stay in integrity in all my communications. Imagine my surprise when a communication hit the fan.

As my sister arrived for a rare visit, I found myself embroiled in a crazy misunderstanding between industry friends that was being blown completely out of proportion. I am not used to people thinking ill of me. It makes me very uncomfortable. When I’ve done nothing wrong and people think ill, it’s really hard for me to accept.

As I took my sis around town I fielded phone call after phone call from various supporters and detractors. I floundered to come up with spin control and any kind of positive communication plan. As my sister and I walked on the beach, my stomach was in knots wondering how I would positively resolve the issues at hand and restore friendships where now there was upset.

My sister left later that day and I waved her off as I jumped on yet another phone call. I was so busy trying to manage people’s misinformed bad opinions of me, I hadn’t even taken her to frozen yogurt like I’d promised.

A friend called me later that night. She listened patiently as I told her the ins and outs of the crazy communication breakdown.

“People in Hollywood are nuts,” she wisely barked. “They always will be. You need to grow a thick skin and not give a crap what they think about you. You just focus on your good work and screw the rest. If they don’t like you, screw them.”

I had never considered the possibility of just letting go. Clearly these people were not any BFFs of mine if they would jump to the conclusions they jumped to, never checking in with me; if they would hold onto the drama of what was truly a non-issue to effectively end our friendship. The whole ridiculous incident felt like High School again and the letting go of the craziness was like fast forwarding the years back to the present. A relief.

All along I kept asking myself: what am I supposed to be learning from this? The thick skin was certainly part of it. Letting go of other people’s opinions, too. I thought about the crazy anti-fan mail some of my famous friends deal with. Certainly, there was value in that. But that still wasn’t quite it.

Before she left, my sister, out of the blue, gave me a necklace. A silver Celtic knot style pendant with the words “warrior spirit” stamped on the back. As I drove away from dropping her off and saying goodbye, I rubbed the pendant. And then I got the lesson. I had had one of the most important people in my life with me for 24 precious hours and instead of enjoying her, I had been worried about some crazy bullshit that I probably won’t even remember in ten years. Worried isn’t even accurate. I had let it completely absorb me. And my sister was leaving.

In the end, all the stuff resolved itself. Not in the way I would have thought. But as it does, it resolved in the way it needed to. More importantly, I got the lesson: don’t let the crazy bullshit take you away from the stuff that counts.

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Blogger Jeremy said...

For what it's worth, I was just mentioning to a friend of mine how cool it was for you to call me back the way you meant a lot to me. Not sure if your post was about me, but it could've been and I thought you handled the situation very well...I owe you another call, by the way, but I'm doing a movie in NY for the next week and I'll call you after for sure.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Oh that was totally not about you, sweetie! But I appreciate your sensitivity. Very proud to call you a filmmaker friend. Good luck in NYC! Looking forward to talking when you're done.

3:33 PM  

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