When is the time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do? Retirement? Next year? Sometime when you’ve got it all figured out? Now? Lately I’ve been trying to answer this question for myself.
For the past decade, or maybe longer, the same lists of goals have appeared and reappeared in journals, New Year’s Resolutions, scrawled lists, and personal manifestos. I have done what I felt I could with some of them, but most have been left for some unspecified, future date.
The lists look something like this-
Learn to surf
Return to Mexico, practice Spanish
Write every day
Go dancing once a month (at least)
Find a German class
Read the books on your bookshelf that you haven’t read
Spend time with family
Head south of Mexico
Take time off and do the things you always say you want to do
They go on and on, but you get the idea.
My job, as a set costumer on films, should allow me to accomplish all of these things and yet I don’t feel that I ever do. Working intensely for months and then having large chunks of time off, I frequently find myself slightly catatonic once the adrenaline and dust from the most recent movie settles. I’m slowly realizing that the chess game of finding the next job while diplomatically turning down those I don’t want to do, takes up much of my free time. Because the film industry is most similar to freelancing, more than self employment or full time employment, it really is up to me to make it what I want.
Not viewing myself as someone motivated by fear or money, I’ve been taking a good look at that recently and realizing it’s not entirely true. While my job suits me on many levels and I’m grateful for it, I am also aware that, in large part, I do it for the money and it is not my end all be all or my creative outlet. But then, that’s why they call it work, right? I spend hours worrying about buttons, collars, ironing, crazy personalities, and hoping I didn’t forget the actor’s hat after the crew has trudged up a mountain and any forgotten item will take hours to retrieve. When it’s four in the morning and I haven’t fallen asleep because I’m worrying about a silly continuity issue and I know that a seventeen hour day looms in front of me, I often find myself asking, ” is it worth it?” I think if I can be more disciplined in my off time and trust that there will always be another job once I’m ready to work again, then the answer is yes.
Recently I’ve been handed what might turn out to be a gift. I’ve been offered, and accepted, a job on a movie that promises to be exhausting, crazy, maybe fun, and will take me far from home for the first half of 2014. So, now the question is, knowing that that is coming, will I be brave enough to spend the next several months doing the things I always say I want to do and forgoing the immediate security of jumping on a job this fall, to fill the void? Will I finally start to cross things off the list? We’ll see. I think so.