I saw a post from one young blogger, a great young woman who is studying literature in the United States. She did a film review, an ironic choice of "F is for Fake", the very last film that Orson Welles released in his lifetime in 1973. I have always been attracted to people who seem to be rebels, but who they really are is always up for interpretation. The premise of the film goes into the question, What is art? In Orson's view, art is all fake.
But what about those who just are driven to create? It made me look at my own journey. I am drawn to people, and often they are drawn to me and tell me their stories. Often, they are filled with pain, the pain associated with life. I remember when I was in Paris, and a strange man saw me the Buttes Chaumont, which is in the XVIII district of Paris. He saw me photographing all sorts of things in the park, and followed me, just watching me. Finally, he came up to me and asked if I would join him for coffee.
"My English is not that good, so it would be nice if I could talk to you." He began. There was something about his approach. Something so honest about it, that I couldn't decline. So I agreed and left with him to a nearby cafe. He was holding a satchel, not really much of one. He was asking about my French, and began to tell his story.
"I have lived a horrible life." He started slowly and then opened up his bag. He reached inside to pull out a large envelope and laid it on the table in between our cups of coffee. "I have asked many strangers, to write about me, and I think you are a writer." As he poured out his life before me, I listened to detail after detail. A life, that at many times, went through many valleys that were dark and horrible. The agony of his life was centered around one event. One event he kept reliving over and over again. It was over a lost love. There was a Romeo and Juliet quality to the story, but I wasn't falling for it.
There was a woman he loved very much, when he was very young. He had asked her to marry him and she agreed, but her father opposed the marriage. He still pressed her for her hand in marriage, but at the time, she was not in the position to go against her father nor go against the love of her life. So she made a different choice, and threw herself to her death in front of a train...dying instantly.
He never let go and kept living in a beautiful, dark hell of his own making. He didn't give himself permission to have a life he could live. When he finished his story, I asked him one question.
"Why haven't you let yourself live? You died that day...and every day for over 20 years, you have kept throwing yourself in front the train with her. She chose to die. You need to choose to live." His eyes welled with tears. I don't know why no one had told him that before. I don't know why he came up to me that day. I looked over the envelope's contents...and the words, in so many different languages...in chaotic writing was full of drama and pain.
Pain is very easy to hold on to and becomes the identity of a person. Sad and dark lives that should have been or could have been something else. I have seen people defend their pain. Justify it. Violently protect it. But a wound that continues to be ripped open again and again...never heals.
You don't stay in these valleys of pain...you keep walking through it.
So, I view art differently. Art doesn't have to be fake. Perhaps that is why I am drawn to create, to be flawed, and not care about comparisons along the way. Because I am not trying to be anyone else but me.
Leave the fake images and plastic in Hollywood. So, as I grow, evolve and learn differing crafts and developing talents...I share this virgin effort with you, called...simply "What If..."