Tuesday, September 05, 2017

On work

Excerpt from Gibran Khalil Gibran's جبران خليل جبران‎‎ poem "On Work" from The Prophet:

"Work is love made visible.
    And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
    For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger.
    And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine.
    And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night."

This passage has come back to me a lot these last couple of weeks. First, it was when I was writing like a fiend in an attempt to finish my screenplay (insert cliche of Los Angeles *here*, yes). It was hard but thrilling and as I got closer and closer to finishing, I got more excited. The effort was worth it and sometimes I thought, why am I doing this? Like, why? Why does this matter? And then I remembered Gibran's line: "Work is love made visible". That is essentially what I was doing...I poured myself into pushing keyboard buttons, hoping that it'd all make some sense, because I wanted to, because it's important to me, and because some part of me did enjoy it - a big part of me felt fulfilled, with writing and finishing that writing. So yes, that was work made visible.

I have worked this whole summer - which is actually what I wanted. I didn't get any time off, and the end of August was the culmination as well as the beginning of a bunch of things. However, I felt grateful, as it was only 2 years ago as I was telling a coworker, when I had nothing at all going on for me. I was out of work, out of money, out of ambition and ideas. That's the moment when, pretty much exactly 2 years ago, is when I decided to apply to graduate film schools, and when I seriously started pondering leaving NY, of actually doing so this time. 

2 years later, on Thursday last week was the last day of my full-time paid summer internship at a socially-conscious film company, and it was perfect for me; I also had to turn something in major that day (duas for that, fingers crossed, etc, duas for real); and I had to pack and clean in the midst of it all, as well as receive my subletter. It was a lot for one day. In addition I showed my subletter around a bit as it's her 1st time in Yankland. So, an incredibly full day, but in terms of work, yes it was a lot of work that I had to do and put in, but I'm grateful for it all, because I know what it's like in comparison to have nothing going on. 

It's not even a week later and I find myself itching to work again. What happened? I never thought of myself as a workholic. I don't think I am one. Perhaps it is anxiety about my trip, that might be it. Though filmmaking in general is a very anxious thing, as it's a 24/7 hustle. You can't ever really take a break from it. Because if you do, the whole machine can just stop. And right now, the only part of that machine, is me. To get a film going, it's all on me at this stage. And it takes a lot of effort and muscle and brainpower and time and commitment to get anything off the ground, especially when it's just one person. Other people don't come into the picture until much later. For months and years, it is just me: pondering, researching, writing, applying, fundraising. So it's constant work around-the-clock, and I find myself, at a time that I supposedly have off, that no, this isn't really time off, there are things I need to research and connects that I need to make, ASAP. 

It's anxiety, yes. Whether it's travel anxiety or filmmaking anxiety, I'm not sure, but the only way to tackle it is to work. And it's work I enjoy doing. I'm lucky now where my work consists of working on my films - I don't have to do anything else. Even that internship was pretty specialized and fit my goals really well, so I greatly enjoyed it and got a lot out of it, alhumdulillah. Basically these days, I find that the work that I'm doing is for myself, for my films, which is what I've wanted so badly for so, so long. Who knew that I'd have to go to school for that to happen...it clearly didn't happen on its own like it has for others. By the way, I know what real anxiety is like and how crippling it is...last year it resulted in me not being able to do anything, at all...whereas now I just want to keep working and moving. Thank God.

Anyway, blah blah. Work. I'm in Metro Detroit currently where I spent 8 months last year. Today I drove around and saw some of the places I worked at - the library, cafes, etc. A big part of me wishes I could just spend the rest of my time here doing my work at these places, that would feel pretty great, but I can't, there are a few rounds I have to make, and it'd annoy Mum if I spent all my time outside the house. Part of me wishes I could spend a month in MI - on my own - and do my work at the libraries and cafes that I know and enjoy. 

But that is not likely to happen, for reasons I'll write about soon.  

Edit: Part of me thinks I should have spent this night doing more actual work. But instead, I read, and I wrote (blogged...this). I know in the end it'll be better for me to have taken time to reflect, read and write, than just plain keep working. Because all of that is work too, and makes my "actual" work, better. If I want to be better at what I do, I should be better, and reading and writing makes me, perhaps not always better, but at least more reflective and hopefully a little bit more aware about things. Hopefully.
Also I'll be spending part of tomorrow working at a locale I know well...and I am geekily excited about that.