Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Big Picture

September 16th, 2006 marked the date when Beth & Scott and Friends took the plunge into the world of video. "Hooray" you say? And I sincerely hope you are right. Because on September 23rd, one week after the taping, I have some very mixed feelings about the experience and the results.

The experience was wonderful. Not to say there weren't some days when I was nervous, but most of the time I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed having something like the video to focus on. For months, my life was pointed towards one date, one big thing and all of our efforts on any given day could go towards the goal of making it better. Over the summer we had many interesting and spirited conversations with the director about the premise. In July, we filmed ourselves so we could analyze the nuances of our performances. And in August we worked on costumes with our designer or discussed marketing with the theater producer and a local friend who pitched in bringing our message to local preschools. And there was so much more I did in the background, including a lot of emotional work preparing myself to be filmed. It was, after all, an awesome thing to agree to having one's life work "preserved for posterity". Hey, you try it some day!

When it was all done, I called one of my friends and said, "We hit it out of the park". I was elated, drained and satisfied. Months of planning by Beth and I and lots of our friends, family and hired hands had led me to a point where I could definitely say, "I've done the best that I can do." It was a great feeling. It reminded me of how I felt when we finished the initial taping of our first CD, "Learn & Play". On that evening, we had all of our musicians stay over for a meal of Paella and red wine. We toasted our success, we reveled in the joy of being artists and the walls rang with our good cheer for days afterward.

When the video shoot was done, Beth and I couldn't rest right away. In fact, we were so wired that we had trouble sleeping the first two nights. Our brains were still on overload even though our bodies were screaming, "Please let me rest!" We were fielding lots of congratulatory phone calls, checking out converage in the local newspaper and smiling a lot as we went over the details of the experience. It was like we were still in a bubble of euphoria.

The bubble burst a few days ago. My friend compares this part of the experience to "the day after Christmas". I remember it most clearly when I was about ten years old. It was a day when all of the presents are opened and the emotional high deflates faster than a birthday balloon. You go back to your bedroom and think, "That's it? Christmas is over and I have to go back to my life, now?" Beth remembers this same kind of emotional despair when a play ended, when everyone who had grown so close during rehearsals and the run simply walked away from you. It's like there's a big hole in your heart where all the hope and joy existed.

There was something else about the video experience, though. I began to worry about the results of our work. My head started spinning with all the different things that could be wrong, unfixable and not worthy of preserving for posterity. On the contrary, I began to wonder if this whole video experience might not be a complete waste of time and money. What if I don't sound good, what if my hair's a mess or I'm too sweaty? My mind, usually so creative and helpful in making dreams come true, had turned itself on me. My mind was creating nightmare scenarios. Oh, no!

Luckily, I have good friends and a loving, supportive wife all of whom understand me and the pickle I was in. Over the course of the next few days I came to realize (with their help) that it was perfectly natural to have these feelings. Almost every artist, no matter his place in the heirarchy of talent, experiences grave doubts about his performance. The goal, however, is to develop oneself into a being who can do his best work and then let go of the results. That's easy to say but extremely hard to do, especially in a consumer-driven culture where we want our work not just to be good, but to sell. And so, we must sit with our uncomfortable feelings. We must worry, for awhile at least, and create our doomsday scenarios just as we created our projects. For some reason, we repeat the experience of December 26th ad infinitum. As someone said, "If it's hysterical, it's historical." How true.

And so, I wait. And relax. After an initial attempt to revert to my workaholic past, I've come to a place where I'm more or less comfortable doing a bit of work here and there, cleaning up loose ends, watching some old episodes of "The West Wing" and, yes, waiting. Waiting for the video, but also waiting for the next big project to come into focus so that I can start working, again. It's what I do. It's who I am.

1 comment:

Keith Torgab said...

Dear Scott,
I'm so proud of you ... to take such a risk and put it out there for all the world to see (and have no control over the results) very brave.

Also want to complement you on your blog - you always have thoughtful interesting stuff to say.

Can't wait to see the video!

Love, Keith