Sacrifice

Posted on February 20, 2013

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46 days ago I left my home and long-term girlfriend for work in another state, and I can’t be more thrilled to return to both tomorrow night. I’ll be back in Portland a week later for another 10 days of shooting, but the next seven in Los Angeles will be glorious, if not a little disorienting.

If there was a word I gained more appreciation for than I ever thought I would in this time, it’s “sacrifice.” The coaches of the basketball team we’re filming use it more frequently than “the,” “is,” or “but” combined. It’s drilled into the players heads for its relation to excellence and success. I think all of them would agree with me that sacrifice is a pretty good antonym for “fun,” but the payoff from it doesn’t have a word; in fact, it’s indescribable. The coaches, players, my team of filmmakers, and myself are still heading towards our final payoffs, but it’s easy to catch whiffs and glimpses when there’s nothing else to focus on. And in our own lives we’ve already reaped so much.

I may not be able to do much more tonight than to keep waxing poetically like this. I’m filled to the brim with equal parts excitement and melancholia. But I’ll try. The team is heading towards a State Championship. Tonight they won a game that landed them in the playoffs–their first time in three years, and with players that experienced every single loss in those three years. Though I’ve only partially gotten to know them these past six weeks, it’s impossible not to feel the excitement after all those years of training and perseverance through seemingly impossible odds.

It’s the stuff I used to read about and intellectualize as an avid reader and journal-er. I feel like I spent a lot of time in the past keeping to myself, not trying because I didn’t see the point, and not joining in with others because I thought I was better. But I was good at analyzing Charles Dickens stories, and so I knew the structure of underdog plots and how all that “rah-rah bullshit” worked, so that was good enough for me. In the mean while I wasn’t publishing any award-winning literature for the benefit of others (though I kept saying I would, as if that meant something), and I wasn’t directing or producing any of my own films despite taking the time and energy to move to Los Angeles.

But more so with this job than any other before it, I feel like I’m part of something. I see more clearly how my actions or inactions play a direct role on the task and people around me. Sometimes its as small a gesture as wearing the team’s jersey to a game over my usual denim, combat boots, and obscure music-related-shirt and seeing a player double-take me with a smile. Other times its more grand, such as taking the energy (and forgetting the shooting permit) to follow them with cameras and audio equipment around town (and on foot) and making neighbors from their community take more stock in the value of their games. And like I said, the little payoffs I feel are indescribable. Indescribably good. I’m very excited for the bigger ones to come once this project wraps.

But I wouldn’t feel anything from this new learning experience if I didn’t sacrifice so many comforts to be a part of it, and to just give it my all. That’s the part I’m still very much in the trenches of learning about, whether on this project or something of my own. I’m not sure if I have the patience to do things that don’t demand my all anymore…

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