Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 110: Three green bottles.....

A ‘traditional’ sort of song I remember from way back when goes like this: "Ten green bottles, standing on the wall, ten green bottles, standing on the wall and if one green bottle should accidentally fall, there’ll be nine green bottles, standing on the wall.

A week or two ago, I wrote of my “irons in the fire”, five work opportunities that I’ve been cultivating ‘out there’ in the big wide world; swapping the euphemism for a moment, from “irons” to “bottles”, one of the bottles crashed yesterday (taking a related bi-product of an opportunity with it) and another is teetering, looking like it may fall.

To be perfectly honest, the “bottle” that has crashed to the ground was an opporunity that I didn’t want to work out for me anyway, it was going to mean that I would have to take a step back into the world of commerce and business and my shoulders were slumping as I thought of that. One of the owners of the company called me from America to tell me that they “didn’t think I was right for the position” and I agreed with them. It’s funny, but only a couple of hours earlier, I was having a phone conversation with a director I’m collaboarting with, during which I expressed my mixed feelings about the position and whether I wanted to be offered the role within this company or not. That person wisely foretold that “the universe” would take care of things; a bona fide Cassandra if ever there was one.

So, one of my bottles crashed down off the wall, leaving four up there, still standing. Another phone conversation with another collaborator, later on in the day and - to continue the metaphor - a bottle that I always thought was gingerly placed (something else masquerading as a bottle), looks as though it might turn out that way and shouldn’t be on the wall in the first place. I’m sorry to talk in riddles, but it’s a tiny sea that I sail on and “loose lips sink ships”.

Let’s say that I can clearly agree with myself that there are three bottles up on that wall and I’m trying to put a fourth up there at the moment.

I genuinely fear finding myself sweeping up shards of glasss, looking up to see the wall top bereft of bottles and thinking that I need to start from scratch and create another bunch of projects, another set of irons for the fire. Will I have to go back to the anvil and the hammer and start creating yet another precious object forged between the pounding of one piece of metal on another? How many metaphors can I squeeze in here today??

I returned to the film Master & Commander last night for sustenance. I have two or three films that I reach for, from the DVD store shelf, when life gets a little like this, not by any stretch of the imagination the best films in the world (whatever that means) but films that have something in them that works for me, films that I get lost in. What works for me in in Peter Weir’s retelling of three Patrick O’Brien novels conflated together, is the (Controlling) idea of the film, a dilemma repetitively thrown at the protagonist - the Captain (Jack Aubrey/Russell Crowe) of the ship (HMS Surprise) - which is one of: doing what’s best for the individual vs doing was right for the greater good.

Examples of this ‘lesser of two evils/irreconcilable goods” dilemma face Captain ‘lucky’ Jack, again and again and again, indeed the man has to be made of sterner stuff than even English oak. In one particular sequence that poignantly and terrifyining demonstrates this idea, in words not action, is the moment where, rounding Cape Horn, a spar high up in the rigging splinters, crashing into the mountainous ocean, taking the young sailor who was struggling to work the sail attached to said spar. So may ropes are attached to that heavy piece of the mast that’s broken off, that it’s dragging the ship over, threatening to capsize the vessel threatening the lives of all souls on board. The young man, clinging to the piece of oak amidst the tumult of the sea has only one hope: that he can struggle back to the Surprise via those rope lines that attach him to the ship. To add a sting to the Captain’s dilemma, the very same young man had presented Jack Aubrey with an idea that would contribute to saving him and the entire ship’s crew, earlier on in the story. The Captain gives the orders for axes to be brought and he leads the way, chopping through the ropes, cutting the lifelines that bind HMS Surprise to the spar and the sailor; he consigns that young man to a certain and lonely end, leaving him behind at the very gates of a seafaring hell, whilst he and the rest of the crew sail on.

Day #110 Tip: Sever the ties that bind
One way or another, the ‘ship’ that is my screenwriting, must move forward. I know what the direction is that I’m trying to head in and must attempt to keep my compass on watch to what is or isn’t going to serve my objectives.

There will be obvious forms of aid and assistance that come to me (some in disguise) and other options that may hold me back. It’s a lifetime learning lesson in itself to treat them all with equanimity and to not get derailed, either way when things work out or indeed when they do not. Sometimes I’ll have the axe in my hand to sever the ties, sometimes it’ll be out of my control, but either way, my ship must plough forward, hopefully to come safe to land again.

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