Day of Gray

It was a gray morning. The rains had stopped and to the east, the sun rose in an aura of golden light that ought to have made me feel hopeful, but I was having a low moment and I just felt frustrated and lost.

I felt like I’d lost my direction in life. Maybe I’d never had it to begin with. I usually take comfort in the structure of my daily routine: get up, go to work, spend my commute writing, take a walk. Maybe make some plans for the weekend. I like structure. I like the reassurance of the familiar. I like being able to break up my overlarge projects into small daily doses.

But lately it has all felt futile. I work and I work and I never seem to make progress. I walk and I walk and I never seem to get anywhere. I write and I write and never seem to have anything to show for it. I’ve completed rewrites on three feature scripts in the past two months: a considerable amount of work, which I’m proud of, but nothing much to show for it.

Over the weekend, we were in Hollywood looking down from the hilltop at celebrity mansions. “Which one will be ours?” I asked the Curmudgeonly Lion. He wanted one with a pool. I said that would be fine as long as it had lights so I could use it at night. Later, during the week, I saw the listing for a friend’s house (which looks amazing, by the way) and a price tag of three-quarters of a million dollars. I was struck with a sudden stabbing sense of helplessness knowing that I couldn’t afford even a fraction of that and probably wouldn’t be able to for a long time. All the glamour of Hollywood seemed to be laughing at me: you’ll never belong here- you’re not good enough. It was the same feeling I got every time I went to Malibu, you’re an idiot for thinking you’ll ever be one of us, and everyone knows it but you.

And before you ask, Mom and Friends, yes I’m OK: I know the voice is a liar. It doesn’t care about what’s true, only about what makes the fear light up my brain.

The hardest part about creative work isn’t learning the craft: anybody can learn how to put words on paper or pictures on film or music on tape. The really hard part of creative work is learning how to fight off the faithlessness that comes with not knowing whether it will ever amount to anything. That said, though, I had coffee with my Dad not long ago and he reminded me that the satisfaction was in the striving more than in the accomplishment. I believe this to be true, but I wouldn’t mind just a little more assurance that something will come of all this struggle. I don’t need it to be easy, but I’d like to know that it’s worth it.

At any rate, this was the mood in which I arrived at the office this morning. I was an hour early believing there was a lot of work to be done, but the first one there by almost forty minutes. By the time enough of my co-workers had arrived to form a quorum, I had twisted myself into an emotional knot that was going to require something extraordinarily sweet and pure to unravel. Something like a puppy.

And just like that, a puppy arrived.

One of my co-workers had found a tiny lost puppy one her porch. Another one of my co-workers had been considering getting a second dog to keep her old one company. She wanted a long haired Chihuahua. A long haired Chihuahua had appeared. The office happened to be the crossroads where Wants and Has finally crossed. And like magic, the gloom lifted. Never underestimate the power of small animals.

So it’s been a day of ups and downs: a day of gray- after the rain but before the dawn. But maybe there’s hope.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on March 7, 2019.

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