Journal – 6/14/15: Noir, Dreams & Change

Me_IconYikes, haven’t written a legit journal in a month, clear sign I’ve been too much in my head! I use my journal as an observing ego tool, and not journaling is a clear signal that I’m not particularly interested in exposing my slovenly nature! Not that I’ve been particularly egregious, but I have been dragging my feet on the creative process, and that’s got to stop toot sweet.

Basically I’ve got three things on the docket: “Hard Knox” novel second draft, short stories based on the world of “Black Nouveau” (as a nod to Raymond Chandler and to flesh out the universe) and a collaboration with my nephew Ellory based on his idea “Undead Gunslinger”. A rich array of challenges, but all just vapor till I’ve got some deadlines and schedules. More on that later, for now wanted to jot down what’s been on my mind.

Summer of Darkness

NoirTCM has created an FREE online course to supplement their “Summer of Darkness” Film Noir series this summer. How awesome is that? If you like film in general or Noir in particular, and never taken a film class, get ON this! It’s easy to forget how many different skills go into making a movie: writing, directing, cinematography, set design, sound design, soundtrack, lighting, special effects, costume design, makeup, spider wranglers, you name it! All providing crucial information, context and subtext to us viewers – often without us realizing how we’re being feed these cues.

There’s no substitute for a great film course, I was lucky to have a great one in college, and it’s enhanced my enjoyment of film and TV continuously since. I just started the TCM course, and it’s the real deal, check it out!

If you’re not stoked for taking a class, just watch the movies, it’s a great slate! Here’s the schedule.

Freaky Dream

Skeleton_fullA few days ago I was treated to one of those long, rambling dreams that seemed to have some narrative point (but I’ve yet to grasp it). In a nutshell, this is what I remember:

I enter an old house, thinking it to be a comic book shop, which it is. But a heavy vibe hangs over this place and the patrons, there’s no joy here. As I wander, it becomes clear the interior of this place is many times larger than the exterior could possibly hold. I ascend the rickety staircase to find more comics and a lighter atmosphere, people engage me in conversation, delighted to see me. Talk turns to skeet shooting, and soon we’re all in the back of the property shooting long rifles at clay pigeons. It all has the feel of a garden party, complete with string quartet playing off to the side and cocktails served by staff.

When the shooting ends, we return to the house, and to the basement where we store our weapons, only to find the basement is also populated with soldiers and women in what looks like an old-school opium den (an open space broken into “cells” by linen “walls”, mattresses on the floor), this too had the air of festivity but with an edge of profound sadness.

The women began to dance, and as they did they peeled their faces off revealing sort of an albino insect/reptilian creature below – they did it in a delighted fashion, like their true selves were being seen for the first time.

Then I woke up.

Massive Change

Fair_Rock“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” – Tony Robbins

The theme that “people never change” or more to the point, can’t change, has become fairly prevalent in popular culture (Mad Men, Breaking Bad) and is argued by some mental health professionals. I don’t subscribe to this view, but I am conscious of how I often cycle back to the same things that I’d “like” to change about myself. The reason I don’t see this as “permanent” is that I have successfully changed behaviors over many decades (never know if I’ll backslide but I figure if I can go twenty years without debt, I can say I broke that behavior).

That’s a long preamble to bring me back to that Robbins quote, it reminded me that the only time I’ve succeeded at changing a deep-seated behavior it was the result of committing to massive change. Taking seriously the challenge, and devoting all of myself to the accomplishment.

Alternatively, any time I’ve tried moderate change, I got minimal (and easily reversible) results. Based on what I’ve seen in other people, this should probably be considered a “fact” or at minimum a likelihood.

There’s a reason “whatever it takes” is a cliche, because it’s the only way to even come up with a quality failure. Most people don’t face real failure, simply mild disappointment because things “didn’t work out”, perhaps that’s a defense mechanism to guard against pain. We all know people who talk about “things they’re going to do” (I’ve been very guilty of this), sometimes they go as far as taking action but in a way that under scrutiny won’t lead to the desired outcome (usually it’s the lack of a deadline, but there are a million ways to escape success).

I bring this up because I’m at a decision point about a couple of things (weight loss, career transition) that I’ve previously kidded myself making incremental adjustments (vs. whatever it takes). The fact of taking massive action is that everything else is pushed off the table – the easiest example is professional athletes – sure, they do other things, but any of the will be jettisoned if it impacts the primary goal. I’m all for doing enrichment activities (which is where a lot of my thinking has been lately), but that’s materially different from drawing a line in the sand (internally, this is a deal you make with yourself) and accepting all that “whatever it takes” means.