Chasing a dream demands sacrifice. The unavoidable reality is that mastering a craft requires years of back-breaking work and intense focus. We're all familiar with the story of the lonely artist whose friends and family fall by the wayside as they pursue their passion. It's the price of the arts. Or so they say.
"My dear, find what you love and let it kill you." – Charles Bukowski
Little waves of guilt wash over me when I find myself spending time with my friends instead of writing. How much of this investment in relationships is wholesome, and how much is procrastination or distraction? Am I weak to retreat into the comfort of friendship? Am I one of those dreamers who will settle for a far too quiet life for fear of being lonely?
I'm not sure of my motivations. But recently a friend of mine shared a thought that struck me: Some people build a community for the sake of honing their art, while others engage in the arts for the sake of having a community.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized the latter was true for me.
I learned to love movies in the first place because watching movies was our family's nightly tradition. I learned to love filmmaking because it was a project I could work on with my brother. We grew up making videos together as kids, and in college we made short films. Early this year, jumping on set with our friends felt like the most natural way in the world to spend the last moments of Christmas vacation and the first moments of 2016.
Those sweet moments during filming, where everyone is working hard and cracking jokes and believing in a story you wrote – that's what I'm really after.
When I think about my dreams for a career in film, I remember seeing a photo on Twitter of the Avengers cast and crew having dinner together. I saved that photo to my phone because I so desperately wanted a seat at that table, just to share a meal with the talented people making the stories I loved.
I remember the 2015 Academy Awards and Wes Anderson's face filled with such sweet joy and pride as his crew won award after award because he had created for them an environment where they could thrive. Every one of them thanked him for that, and I knew that was the kind of director I wanted to be.
I dream of fame (of course I do), but I'm mostly attracted to the idea of sharing a story I needed to tell myself with a small tribe of people who needed to hear it, too. It's not wrong to want an audience; it's a beautiful form of connection.
I might be naïve, and I already know I'm idealistic. But I want to prove we can rise together. I want to believe that kindness takes us far. Maybe I don't want success enough. Maybe I'm afraid of the sacrifice required to get me there. But I'm more afraid of sacrificing the sacred pleasure of telling stories with my family, mentors, friends, and you.