The Calling


I continued my journey through the file folder of old childhood documents from my parents. Most of this consisted of artwork circa 1988 (age six), which was evident a prolific period in my artistic career. A Christmas list from age four-and-a-half proved that I could draw a bicycle with enough accuracy to be recognizable, but what I ready wanted was a Yellow Piano , which I spelled LO PNO, with most of the letters backwards and each word written right to left.

 I had a lot of problems telling my right from my left. This I remember. I didn’t really learn my left from my right until I started driving. People would always tell me to hold up my index finger and my thumb because my left hand makes an “L”, but to my mind both hands looked like “L” because I couldn’t remember which way an L was supposed to go. Many of the “books” included in the file are bound on the right with staples. The letters are backwards. The words are backwards. On one page the entire sentence is written backwards. No wonder I tested so poorly in writing. 

But I could draw an alligator in a tutu. I could draw a kangaroo with a joey that had dropped its basketball with the dialogue bubble “help mom!” I’d figured out to blend crayon colors to get the right look for a cats eyes. And I was pretty good at princesses. Lots of princesses. 

Among the artwork I also found a pair of letters that I’d written to my dad at age fourteen (I know because I say so in the letter) at the time when I experienced my first bout of depression. They are surprisingly articulate about my feelings: couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, didn’t fit in and didn’t want to pretend anymore, etc. And I really wanted to be a part of Star Wars. I didn’t know how and I knew it was irrational, even back then, but that was what I felt driven by.

The thing that I realize now, looking back, was that this was probably a moment of Calling in my life. People talk about receiving the Call to do something: to join the church, to become a teacher, to go out on the road, to write in a Parisian garrett in the dead of winter, etc., and are suddenly filled with lifelong purpose. One supposes that, with this sense of purpose there should be a likewise sense of belonging and fulfillment- that by knowing your direction in life should somehow imbue life with meaning and direction. My direction was Star Wars, and since being an actual Jedi was out of the question (I was irrational, but not completely divorced from reality) I’d settle for being a filmmaker, and if I couldn’t make Star Wars (jury is still out on this) I’d have to make my own thing. And that’s what I’ve been pursuing ever since. 

I have friends who occasionally comment that they wish that they had my drive and my purpose- that they felt the kind of Calling that I did towards some goal of their own. Looking back at these letters, though, I realize that the Call does not come for free: it exacts an emotional price. I suspect that the cost of the price directly relates to the strength of the Call. I could pursue this calling or I could continue to try to fit in and be normal and, if not happy, then at least unconflicted about the direction of my perfectly normal life. I couldn’t do both. Perhaps if I’d felt things slightly less strongly I wouldn’t have made any change at all. Maybe the call would’ve gone away. I might’ve regretted it or I might’ve been relieved.

I’m not trying to say that every time I’ve experienced depression that it is due to some higher calling (although wouldn’t it be nice to think that there’s a purpose to such low moods?) But considering the co-incidence of having a pivotal moment in my life’s direction coincide with depression makes me realize the cost that comes with receiving a Calling that I never considered before.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 27, 2017.

One Response to “The Calling”

  1. You had trouble telling right from left til your teens? And, it wasn’t dyslexia?

    Star Wars is not the path you lead nor follow. That sort of mitochondria you lack. Your own you must cultivate to make a film just as good if not better (which shouldn’t be too hard with the right press). [And, I’d be happy to assist.]

    I am curious about the source of your lingering? depression (and am not one to stamp it a disease treatable by medication). I suffer my own bouts and do what I must to avoid anything worse…which kinda slows down my drive for reaching my desires.

    So, 1982, huh?…I feel strangely old.

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