I was listening to a director talk about a film he’d just made and was trying to write down the most salient pieces of advice. “Never be the smartest guy in the room,” he said, “if you don’t know something, ask. You can be dumb now or you can be dumb for the rest of your life.” 

Good advice, right? I thought so, but that’s not what I wrote down. What I wrote down was: “you can be dumb now or you can be dumb for the restaurant.” Evidently, my mind was elsewhere. I didn’t even notice it until I opened my notebook today and re-read what I’d written. I couldn’t even blame autocorrect: I wrote it by hand. 

In some ways, this isn’t surprising. After a week of intense focus, it was a weekend of competing distractions. I attended an eight hour directing workshop and had family in town and went to a film screening with a director Q&A, and didn’t have much opportunity for reflection or processing so now my brain has turned on the spinning beach ball while it works through everything it just absorbed. In the meantime, I just have to wait.

I’m beginning to recognize this as a pattern; that I will go through days where my mind will be working on a problem somewhere beneath the surface of my conscious mind and I won’t be able to focus on it or anything else until it has resolved whatever it is that it is trying to process. Listen to me: describing it as “it” instead of as “me” like it’s not happening in my own brain. But at the same time, it’s a part of me that I can’t control or quantify, so it kinda is it’s own thing. We just happen to timeshare the same grey matter real estate. 

I find myself wondering whether this is a new development or whether it always happened and I just never noticed it. Was I just not paying attention or were they just not as pronounced? Maybe it didn’t used to be such a big deal because I didn’t have the same kind of skill at maintaining focus for extended periods of time and I used to just process new ideas on the fly. 

Whether or not I felt it before, I’m feeling it now. It’s frustrating, because I’m anxious to make progress on some writing as the act of putting down words on paper is an uninspired slog that makes me want to take a nap, but they can’t all be good days. I just have to have faith that the work done on the slog is not wasted effort and that the inspiration will be back once the brain space becomes available. 

Or it won’t and I’ll be dumb for the restaurant.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on March 6, 2017.

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