Thursday, October 19, 2006
I was up early this morning writing, editing and submitting an essay for a contest in Elle magazine. I thought it was interesting. The prize is a Cole Haan large convertible tote that is very expensive but for me it's the thrill of writing something to be published. I'll probably sell the tote or see if they will swap the tote for cash. I would never spend $425 for a purse. The one I'm carrying now was a free gift with books. That's more my style.
Anyway, I was thinking back three years when I had just moved into the cabin. Some friends from Arvada asked to come up and film some of their movie on the property and I said yes without hesitation. It was a group of scenes centered around a dream sequence that included a crucifixion. They even brought their own cross. Many, many centuries ago (or so it sometimes seems) I designed costumes for the Columbus Light Opera, Columbus Metropolitan Opera and several local theater groups. In that former life I spent a lot of time designing and sewing costumes, as well as bridal and prom gowns, among other things, for a select group of clients. The costumer on my friend's movie couldn't seem to figure out how to make robes that actually looked like something people would have worn in the first century B.C.E. so I offered to help. I also created a quick costume that looked like Jesus's garments when he was nailed to the cross for the girl in the dream sequence and touched up some of the actors' makeup. I made some new friends that day, people that still call, email and visit from time to time now that I'm closer to Denver. When my friend and his troupe of actors finished they left me with a 10-12-foot cross that sparked quite a few conversations, especially from my parents who visited shortly thereafter. Dad even helped me chop it up for the fire.
As I look back on my life and visit some of those times it seems as though I've lived many different lives. I've had two full careers, one of which I still practice, in addition to the writing I began professionally after decades of silence. I have met interesting people and been involved with and part of some historical events. I have known the famous and the infamous, worked with and trained athletes, done more than a few stints in the political arena and brushed shoulders with actors in a few movies, seemingly always on the fringes where I could see and not be seen. I have engraved invitations to presidential inaugural balls and boxes of carefully preserved letters from people whose names are household words in many households, letters I treasure because their authors are now gone. Some of those letters contain priceless advice and all of the letters are glittering jewels of wisdom and pearls of shared memories and lives.
I once said that when I lie on my death bed I want to look back and remember all the things I've done and seen and not regret what I have missed. I have lived a continuous adventure, although the adventures are somewhat quieter at the moment. With my parents' illnesses so much in my thoughts, I wonder what they see as they look backward down the halls of their lives. Do they wish they had done things differently or regret not taking a few chances here and there? Do they see a full and satisfying life? Are they happy with what they have achieved? I don't know. Their lives are not mine. They traveled a much different path, a path I consider safe, but somehow, despite all the trouble and turmoil that has crept in here and there, I believe they are satisfied with their journey.
Not everyone is born to be an adventurer. The world needs people to dig the ditches as much as it needs people to design the pipes or whatever that goes into the ditches. Everyone, no matter what their jobs or beliefs, is part of the vast and intricate machinery of life. No one's value is less than anyone else's. Without each and every cog and tooth and drop of oil watched carefully by maintenance that makes the machine the designer imagined, the machinist to mill and tool, and the builder put together nothing works. Everyone is important.
My friend wrote the screenplay and his partner filmed the scenes the actors carefully learned while the costumer and makeup artist prepared them for the camera. Their job began with a concept and grew into words on a page and in the actors' mouths and finally on the film. Their job finished with the audience who watched and absorbed their vision, growing with each person's reaction. However, nothing was possible without the people who grew and picked the cotton and linen, created the materials that became their equipment and clothes and transportation, color, paper, ink, design, and film. From the smallest raw materials and elements to the finished product everything in that complex and symbiotic machine of creation is important. The loss or lack of one single element stalls the machinery of creation.
We are all interdependent even though we don't see how we all fit together. Worn out parts are replaced, sometimes with newer parts, but always with something that keeps the machinery of life and creation running. We forget that sometimes. We shouldn't.
No, my life is not my parents' lives and their lives are not mine, but without sharing some part of our lives we don't exist. I exist because two other people gave me the gift of life. I live because my parents, whatever their faults and mistakes, shared their lives and their home with me. I have traveled a long way from them and from their home, but even when they are gone a part of them lives on in me.