Friday, February 13, 2009

The Price is Right?

"I want so much."

It was late afternoon. Not a particularly hot one, but an odd time for me to be found chatting online. I've taken a somewhat subconscious aversion to online activities. Chatting, once such an integral mode of communication, somehow seems like something I can live without for long periods of time. I used to talk with people excitedly on Skype; now it seems like just another application whose shortcut routinely shows up on my Desktop as 'unused shortcuts' that Windows would helpfully dispose of at my request. And don't get me started on Facebook.

Of course, I rarely bother with that. The disposal of, that is. Somehow, in the back of my mind, there's the thought that lives a long life, one that has stood the test of time with plenty of barriers in its place. And that thought is: I might need again in the future.

And so it was on this particular afternoon that I find myself fighting the loneliness. It is a theme that has been recurring more and more often as of late. I see it in the movies that I watch, the TV shows I get addicted to, and even in scripts that I write (characters drowning in solitude sort of stuff. Tan Chui Mui, eat your heart out). And so I turned to chatting.

"I want it all, and I am on course for it, somehow. And yet, things don't quite turn out the way I want it to."

"Hmm."

"I'm so lucky that I have all these opportunities to chase after my dreams, chances that other people can only dream of, for the most part."

"Hmm."

"And yet, I feel so empty inside, so far away from the ones I love."

"And you're not OK with that?"

Pause. "I thought I would be." A longer pause. "I'm beginning to think that I'm not."

There is a certain price to be paid, to go after that which we want. That which we desire.

I am a big fan of autobiographies. I love reading about lives of people who had achieved so much in life, to read about how they themselves overcome adversity and barriers in their own lives to get to where they are. Of a particular interest to me are wrestling biographies, because the challenges that they face is quite unique to the sub-culture that is becoming a professional wrestler. That's not to say that I limit myself merely to that, however.

There is one theme, an constant that rears its head around in almost every biography that I have read: people may be successful, they may be heroes and be looked up to and admired, but in order to get to where they are, every single one of them has had to pay a high price. To sacrifice everything, devote anything, to give up all that they have, in order to get to where they are.

In order to achieve greatness, in order to everything that they want to be, they have to give up almost everything that they have.

Now I reach a particular point in my life, a break of sorts (both literal and metaphorical, though this particular holiday doesn't really feel like one). It allowed me to look back, and to think, and to consider, once again, whether I am willing to pay the price.

It does sound pretentious, doesn't it? To be great. Who else would come out and say that?

The aim: to be a good, influential, successful filmmaker (easier said that done).

The price: everything. Or at least, I feel like it's everything. My body (long hours, shitty pay), my mind (being lost at sea at times), my soul (separation from the ones I love, and the separation of the ones I love).

Not all are directly related to one another, or even to the aim. But me being there means me not being here. Saving up money for my film means me not calling back home as often.

But here's the kicker of it all. Let's say I had scale it back, had chosen a different career, had not gone away and pay the price that comes with being away.

Would things turn out differently? Would the movies have a happy ending? Would I have had much of an influence, much of a say in the things that happened?

Probably not.

"You can't have everything, mate."

It hit me.

"You can't have it all."

Simple, but true. A reminder that I need. One that I had forgotten amidst the sea of chaos, the ambitious fire that burns everything in its path, heading with intent towards whatever it is heading towards.

I can't have it all.

I can't afford to have it all.

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