I've been complaining a lot lately. Not because I'm a whining kind of person, but because right now, that's the only way I can sort of deal with what has happened to my family in the past year.
I'm not going into any great detail, but basically: my brother had a lot of drug problems and we were all scared for his life, but he's now in rehab; my parents separated (complicated); my grandparents (dad's side) have been recovering from spending five entire months in hospitals; and my grandmother's (mom's side) house just burned down. Oh, plus my mom's sister still has brain cancer and I came out to (some) of my grandparents this year.
Since I haven't lived at home since 2005, my sophomore year in high school, I've missed nearly all of this (except for the coming out part - I kinda had to be there for that). Where does this leave me? With feelings of regret, selfishness, guilt - my head is full of ideas about how things may have turned out differently if I could have been there. Everyone assures me that things would have turned out the same, and worse for me, if I had been there, but still, I wonder.
I can't separate things in my mind - everything runs together. I'm getting better at trying to focus on one thing at a time, but this semester was, in a word, tragic. Apart from pretty much bombing in all of my classes (an incomplete, a C, and hopefully two B's) and blatantly ignoring my undergrad research project, I completely lost track of the student organization I was in charge of. I had such huge plans for my learning, for my research, for the organization, for everything - and it all just went to shit.
My school work has come to a climax this last week of exams. Months of papers and essays and reactions to films and books and lectures that I've missed over the past few months. My director (for Russian Studies... a random major, I know) told me a couple of weeks ago, in her brilliant tone and accent, "Jason, in times like this, you cannot be a poet." (Not that I'm a poet, I just think like one). I agreed, promising to focus and work and not let life's turns distract me. A promise which I broke that night, of course, when I watched 28 Days Later and Night of the Living Dead and Priscilla Queen of the Desert to distract me from life's distracting turns.
Today, after her three and a half hour exam, I told her about my grandmother's house and something my mother mentioned: the antique wardrobes and tables and pictures and dishes, all things they were trying to save, were damaged just as much by the water putting out the fire than by the fire itself. I have a visual way of thinking, so, of course, I imagined (saw) my grandmother, lifting up a small end table, and the swollen, moldy wood crumpling in her hands and all hopes of saving anything from this tragedy falling to her feet.
I told my professor about this image that was stuck in my head, breaking my heart, and she said something to me that I have never thought of before, and I will probably never forget:
"Jason, don't you see? Of course all the things that have happened are terrible things that I wish you didn't have to go through, but that is not all they are. This is more than the tragedy of life. These things happen, to artists, to thinkers, for a reason. These things will create you and influence you in ways that other people will not understand or experience throughout their entire lifetimes. It does not matter the work you have missed these months - you have learned all you need to know to do what you need to do. Somehow, for some reason, you must experience these things."
Maybe this is why I'm so drawn to cinema, and why transferring to a film school feels so right. I see the world differently than most people, and all that I've experienced, and all that I regret not being there for, it all adds up and influences my creativity. Hopefully, one day, I'll be able to take all these powerful images in my head and put them on screen, sharing my experiences with others, and finally getting it all out there in ways I've never been able to do before.