A short film I was involved in last year got accepted into its first festival. Hooray! It’s called Look Up, and centers on a homeless man who is given a second chance. Part of the message of the film is that even though we suffer, or get lost in our own problems it sometimes only takes being kind to others, or even a simple gesture of good will to lift us up. It can help us get out of our own way. Often times we don’t look up to help others when we can’t see past our own troubles. It was a ton of fun to work on, and was shot at a coffee shop in Bakersfield, CA whose mission is to train and employ former foster youth. It was a really cool place, and you can learn more about them at www.covenantcoffee.org. I also just learned the film festival itself is in partnership with a nonprofit that serves individuals experiencing poverty or crisis. So yeah, it’s a win/win all around.
Now, I’ve had awareness on my mind recently. I’ve been working on paying attention to the things around me. Being present, as our acting teachers say. I’ve been surprised by how it’s affected things. The serendipitous lessons I’ve received because of the heightened focus. A few recent experiences I've had allowed me to appreciate some of the themes from Look Up a little bit more. The title alone brings up new meaning for me and it has been fun to think back on the project with unexpected and fresh points of view.
One experience happened a few months ago. I started making a conscious effort to keep my eyes off the ground when I walk to the gym. I started to keep my phone in my pocket, and I looked out instead of down. I did this because I had noticed that whenever I was walking anywhere, my eyes were locked to the space on the ground right in front of my feet. My head and shoulders were slouched over and I probably had on my patented ‘I’m seriously thinking about something’ scowl. Anyway, I noticed this, and so I started looking up. A lot of things happened. I started noticing how awesome the sky was. I realized how beautiful the hills were that lined Ventura Boulevard. I saw buildings on my street that I had NEVER seen, and I’ve lived here for about two years. I saw the world around me a lot more and occasionally I would be overcome with emotion and not really know why. I would think to myself, "What else have I been missing out on?!" Not long after, I got an invitation to the screening of Look Up, and I couldn't help but be a little more appreciative of the film and its meaning.
Lastly, I do have one more story/addendum. This week I found myself back in the thick of The Artist’s Way. For those of you who don’t know, The Artist’s Way is a book that lays out a 12 week ‘course in discovering and recovering your creative self’. The running joke among a lot of my friends in the acting community is that no one has finished it. It’s great. It really is. But as you know, it is often the things we need the most that we resist. Well I’m back at it. I’m convinced I’m gonna be one of the people who finish this thing. It’s one of my life goals! So I’m reading week 2. WEEK 2! HA! And wouldn’t you know it…I read the following:
“The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.”
It’s true. It was a powerful reminder for myself. Pay attention. I don’t think it’s been a coincidence that this theme has been as present in my life as it has been. It took different forms. A daily walk, a 12 week course, a film. But the message persists, and I find I’m happiest when I allow myself to pay attention. And what a bonus to be able to look back on a past project and discover new meanings and appreciate them in new ways. I hope that happens a lot.