Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Fire in the HoleJust finished fast-forwarding through Aliens with the boys. The coolest thing about the movie are that the characters and dialog are actually AS compelling as the great action and art direction. It's a movie whose priorities are in the right order.
I hunkered down to watch it right after tackling my mounting pile of responsibilities. Between the house, the kids and now the bok, I'm amassing a good mountain. These responsibilities loom over me with increasing menace. I have my credit rating intact. I can still live in my house. But I feel more and more like I'm getting away with something. Like I no longer own and inhabit my life. I'm racing against time, mortgaging off my future in hopes that the payback will be sufficient to justify my risk. I have these song lyrics running through my head at odd hours: And we'll have fun, fun, fun 'till Daddy takes the t-bird away-ay....
As I watch Ripley and the marines battle the aliens, I keep thinking: what's the worst that could happen here? What I'm going through as I wade through my lists and my piles of bills is really not nearly as bad as fighting huge creatures that impregnate you and come crashing out through your chest. I'm not battling for my life... I'm not even, really, battling for my comfort. I'm battling more for a sense of abundance. I'm battling for peace of mind, which will not come from any windfall or huge book sales. It will only come from within, so it may as well start now.
As always, I look at all adverse situations and figure out where the story value lies. For this I tell myself, and whomever will listen, that the story about writing a book, carving the time out of nowhere, staying up late and putting it all on the line, would be SO much more dull if I had a ton of money to finance it with. Who would care, really, if the punchline was "and then I had to dip into my Trust Fund! Oh it was awful!"
Still, I'm pushing the edge. I'm doing this alone. I'm taking unwieldy financial risks and putting my security and well-being on the line. And that feels a whole lot like Ripley facing her own towering fears and going back down to the planet that holds hundreds of manifestations of her worst nightmare.
And yet I'm conspiring with the universe to do a Great Thing. The evil aliens are the monsters of fear, inaction, trepidation. I am going forth boldly to fight those things. How can this mission possibly fail? Even if it doesn't succeed financially, it's already triumphed simply by virtue of being attempted and executed.
One of my favorite details in the movie comes when Ripley is ramming the big all-terrain vehicle out of the building after the first fight with the aliens. The aliens are swarming the outside, punching their nasty little fists in through the window, prying open the doors with their claws. Ripley has hijacked the vehicle and is driving outa there like a madman while the wimpy lieutenant languishes in the back. Exterior shots of the vehicle show blossoms of flame on the vehicle's outside, like napalm burning off on the exterior.
I looked at that and thought YEAH. Of COURSE. Add that fire in. Burn that sucker up, man. This is a balls-to-the-wall movie... of course it's totally right to throw fire all over that thing.
Hanging out later, Taylor asks if everyone has an interesting life (we were talking about the "may you live in interesting times" curse.) I said, no, actually, not everyone. He looked at me in disbelief. What would that be like? he asked. You'd just... wake up, have breakfast, come home, have dinner and go to sleep? Pretty much, I said, but even though that's what we do a lot of the time, it's not what you DO that makes your life interesting or boring. Having an interesting life is about being interested, keeping awake, paying attention. Going in there and kicking ass; and coming out with tendrils of flame still licking the hood.
The mountains of debt are the ammo I'm strapping on myself, like Ripley going down that elevator shaft. It's the protection I've bought myself, to do the book right, to raise my kids right, to pay it all forward. Yes, it's a heavy burden to carry. Yes, the great adventure could backfire on me. I could come out of this with nothing but a ruined financial life and the knowledge I did it all myself.
But I am not living timidly. I am not playing it safe. And at the end of the day I feel good about that. I can go into bookstores now and breathe in the smell of the ink and the paper, and not start crying because every single one of those volumes represents a risk and a commitment that I'm too afraid to take. I have dared. I have confronted. And if I go down in a blaze of fire, so be it. I did my best.
May you live in interesting times. May you have a life you're interested in enough to feel fear and triumph. May you come out of it with a little fire still burning on your hood. A little reminder that we never come out of the good adventures completely unscorched.
# posted by Katherine Doughtie Nolan @ 10:56 PM
Comments: Post a Comment << Home