The losses are there to wake you up
This time two years ago I was on a train bound for Berlin Germany. I didn't know anyone, I was in an interesting state of mind and I thought I wanted an adventure. I had never traveled Europe alone (or at all) and as I looked at the New Year blazing toward me I wanted to run really fast in the other direction.
I had just lived one of the best years of my life (as far as I knew). If you would have asked me in the middle of the year if it was the best year of my life I am not sure I would have said yes (isn't that always the case? Hindsight is 20/20 my father says). By the time 2013 came to an end I realized I had accomplished a lot of things on my "career check list". I was proud of my work, my newly acquired knowledge and I was inspired by the people I was blessed to collaborate with.
There is something about the arts that gets into our veins like a drug. Any theatre actor or director will tell you that when a play's run comes to an end it can sometimes feel like you are mourning a death. The film industry, for some of us, isn't any different. The trouble with me is I love the art, I love the business and I am as sensitive as they come.
In 2012 I fulfilled a life long dream, I moved to LA to start out on what I thought was a forever journey as a California girl destined for Hollywood greatness. I don't mean fame and fortune I mean greatness in movie making, I mean sitting around with the best minds in the business and creating epic entertainment. At the end of 2012 I landed a job at a really great company and was learning everything you could know about distributing a film. By 2013 I was in a groove. I was attending networking events, helping my friend get started producing his first (and very good) short film, I was spending Saturday's playing beach volleyball and I was making new friends by the minute. I was home. I had arrived.
Then I got a call to come back to Chicago for Transformers 4 and I couldn't say no. The money was better, the possible opportunity was endless and I wanted to know what it took to pull off a major Hollywood action film. So I packed up my Brentwood apartment, tossed that stuff into storage and with big tears billowing from my eyes I got on a plane at LAX and headed for my next adventure. I knew I was leaving my home but I swore I would be back.
The summer of 2013 was really incredible. Be it the most stressful it was also a learning and growing opportunity. We pulled off some crazy stuff, I learned more about contract negotiations than I ever imagined and I barely slept. Chicago in the summertime is pretty damn amazing, I was closer to family, I was working nonstop on what I LOVED and I was meeting new talented people in the industry.
When T4 ended my next gig took me to New York where I also have incredible "family" and got to work with a really great team of people on some television development projects. But remember earlier when I said sometimes for artists when a play's run comes to an end it can feel like you are mourning a death? Well I was. I didn't know which way was up. My gumption was covered in mud and I couldn't find it anywhere. I was fumbling the ball (as they say) and when I sat down to try to figure out what to do next, where to go next, I couldn't see a damn thing.
So there I am, on a train bound for Germany and hopeful that my gumption or my clarity or my compass was hiding somewhere near the Berlin Wall.
Unfortunately, it wasn't.
Let me tell you something about your gumption. You'll never find it hiding near the Berlin Wall, or in the next job or in the hands of a lover. Your gumption comes from within, your gumption is in your gut, your heart, your soul. And if you search and search and search for your gumption in other things, you will only find yourself further and further from finding it.
To re-locate your gumption you have to do the work. You have to grieve the loss, face the music, focus inward and really listen. Sometimes it can take months, sometimes you find yourself begging the Universe, your mother floating up above you or even a beautiful full moon to just give you a break, just for five minutes can I have my gumption back? I promise I will use it wisely.
In my particular instance it took all of 2014 for me to get my gumption back, and I have to be honest, I am still kind of digging it out of the dark corners of my soul. I've punished myself for months as I reflect on the past year. I look back on all the decisions that I made and they feel so far from who I really am. I took jobs not aligned with my inner truth, I moved to towns I never desired to live in, I made interesting financial decisions and I probably burned some bridges that I really wish were still in tact.
So here I am, letting that inner voice win. It's telling me I am lost, it's telling me I made all of these mistakes and it's telling me to run. Run run run run run, leave it all behind, all of the mistakes, all of the challenges, all of the burned bridges. My mean little voice wants me to abandon myself and stop digging for my gumption. She's tired, and honestly so am I. But this is when it really counts. This is when Rocky Balboa finally makes it to the top of those stairs, this is when in the third act Matt Damon's character Will Hunting realizes he's got to go see about a girl. This is when it matters, when it gets so tough that your little inner voice is telling you to abandon the challenge. This is when you really have to show up for your life.
I stumbled upon this video the other day and I can't tell you why, but it has changed me. I've listened to it each morning ever since. It's Oprah Winfrey at a student led interview at Stanford Graduate School of Business. She say's a lot of really valuable things and while I am not an Oprah Winfrey obsessed fan I can't help but acknowledge that her words hit me in my gut. The biggest takeaway from her talk is this:
"There's a supreme moment of destiny calling on your life. Your job is to feel that, to hear that, to know that. And sometimes, when you're not listening, you get taken off track. You get in the wrong marriage, the wrong relationship, you take the wrong job. But it's all leading to the same path. There are no wrong paths, there are none. There's no such thing as failure really, because failure is just that "thing" trying to move you in another direction. So you get as much from your losses as you do from your victories. Because the losses are there to wake you up."
I can see my gumption in the distance. Sometimes the inner voice is so loud that it causes me to pause for a moment and think about giving up, but we have to keep moving forward, we have to keep digging.
What will you do with your supreme moment of destiny?