It's my birthday, and while I could cry if I wanted to (for reasons that some people may know), I really have nothing to cry about...without trying to sound like a Frank Capra movie, I really do lead a wonderful life.
I told my wife the other day that I would leave the birthday-reflecting-on-my-life sentimentality for next year as it's my 45th birthday, but after spending the evening at a Netflix screening of the final episode of HOUSE OF CARDS, and watching a Q&A with Robin Wright, Michael Kelly and Writer/Producers Frank Pugliese and Melissa Gibson, I started to reflect on how I got to where I am.
My birthday is also the anniversary date of when I first arrived in Southern California 22 years ago.
Twenty. Two. Years. Ago. When I say it, it feels like the opening title card to every STAR WARS movie..."A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
I'm completely dumfounded when I think that I've lived in Los Angeles for over half my life. Born in Chicago and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I was the stereotypical clueless and idealistic midwestern boy fresh off the bus that you've seen in countless movies...I was the Heather Graham character in BOWFINGER, and much like her character arc in that movie, I am a much wiser and more cynical about the realities of how Hollywood works.
I have lived in Los Angeles longer than I've lived anywhere in my life, and I don't think that I would still be here if it weren't for my father. For at least the first 3 years of my Hollywood adventure, I wanted to move back to Chicago almost every day. Whether it was an intentional reverse psychology scheme or not, my dad would listen to my venting rants, empathize and then softly encourage me to give this Hollywood experiment a little more time, and if I still wanted to move back, they would be glad to have me. Little did I know, and I'm not sure if he knew that his words were the encouraging "nudges" that I needed to hear so I could find my my wings and fly on my own away from the nest and into my own great adventure.
I look at the things that I wanted 22 years ago as a starry-eyed kid fresh out of film school, and the things that I want now as a somewhat wiser adult with a wife and two precocious boys, and in a lot of ways they're different, as they should be. But I lost something along the way, and I didn't even know it was missing. No, not my soul or my creative integrity (while those are the 2 most common things sucked out of the lives of wayward individuals who come here). No, I lost site of my purpose, and by extension, my passion...that driving force that rages against logic and reason to propel you to achieve something greater than yourself. It's that thing that makes us "...the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently."
I was put on this planet to create...to tell stories. Music...photography...filmmaking...pulling words out of the limitless abyss of the human psyche to craft a sentence with the intent of coaxing an emotion from the heart of the reader...they're all tools to tell stories, and I love stories.
On this celebration of my 44th year of life, I want nothing more from anyone than a promise to not just find your purpose...but to find it and live it.
To all the misfits!