Mentors

Everyone wants to make a Yoda or Mr. Miyagi mentor scene work in their story. But a lot of times these come across really cheap.

Some of the best conversations I’ve had with mentors in my life came from a true dissonance in expectations. I went into the conversation wanting one thing, but the mentor forced me to reframe my view on the situation a different way.

Two different tracks of mind, incompatible with each other.

It’s not that the mentor didn’t see what I wanted or where I was. But they knew it’s not what I needed to succeed, and they didn’t waste their time answering it. They didn’t always explain themselves either.

The lesson would not be learned unless I recognized the futility of my own thought for myself. In fact, I could not benefit from the new thought pattern until this happened, because being on my own train–I would naturally dismiss others as incorrect.

So the mentor has to believe and train the student’s own ability to grow and re-align with new, unnatural forms of thought.

Search for Wisdom

I came to Hollywood seeking significance, but I lacked wisdom.

Over the past 12 months, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many people. Some were writers, actors, directors, cinematographers. Others were pastors, mothers, doctors, lawyers, baristas, yoga instructors. Not one could teach me the meaning of wisdom.

Yet I sought desperately the way to be happy. I sought the knowledge–artistic and spiritual–necessary to become a great artist. And more than that, a great man.

I learned to be an intern. I asked the executive what it meant to actualize your inner truth. And she sent me to the manager.

I learned how to get a manager. And I met managers. And they told me to go to the indie filmmaker.

I befriended the indie filmmaker. I asked him, “What must I know to succeed?” And he told me to go to the networking lunch administrator.

I went to the networking lunch administrator, who meets in the back of the Chinese restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard. And she sent me to the virtual reality expo.

I witnessed the virtual reality expo in 3D Atmos Surround. Along the way I met Anne Hathaway, who could not teach me the meaning of wisdom—only the difference between Versace and Valentino.

I studied the greats: Fellini, Coppola, Scorcese. Lasseter. I resolved to write every single day until my fingers bled and my heart exploded in authenticity. This authenticity I believed to be the secret to enlightenment. If I died in the street one night they would find a 350 page unsigned manuscript strapped to my hand I swore in the name of art.

I visited the Dreamworks Lot, the Writer’s Guild Library, and the CAA Building. I don’t know if you know this, but the Creative Artists Agency represents over 3,400 of the most influential filmmakers in Hollywood. Forbes Magazine estimates that it is worth over 5.39 billion dollars. If you’ve never been to the CAA building, it’s this big white complex full of agents scurrying about, split down the middle with this sweet garden. It’s a cold mix of Monticello and that 2000 crime drama “Boiler Room” starring Ben Affleck and Giovanni Ribisi. It is not a popular place for tourists, but I’m not just any tourist.

Today I visited the CAA Building, and between those long, wide halls, past the elevators and security guards, by the garden there was an open door. And no one was looking (everyone’s attention was on an event they were setting up for later), so me, not knowing really where I was going, just sort of slipped in.

And I went down a staircase, and it got sort of dark, and when I reached the bottom there at the other side of the room was Steven Spielberg.

WOAH. I was in the same room as the director of JAWS. And let me tell you. When you reach that point, you stop caring about propriety. I had to shake his hand, at any cost.

I’m not going to pretend he was paying any attention to me. He was talking to someone—probably a writer friend. But I got a grip and I was dressed pretty nice, so I skirted past all the tables in the room before he could leave and I said something like, “Mr. Spielberg I’m a huge fan. I so respect your work and what you’ve overcome in the industry. It’s an honor to meet you.” And he smiled. He was pretty creeped out. He wasn’t keen to like, shake my hand or anything.

But SURPRISINGLY, he engaged me. “Who are you?” He said.

“I’m a writer. I want to write for science fiction and fantasy television or the CW,” I said. “Can you give me any advice?”

Steven Freaking Spielberg said, “I’m about to meet my agent. But you’ve got guts. I’ll give you one tip on the walk over.”

So we went out the back of the room, into this dank hallway, and there were all these pictures of Hollywood greats lining the walls. I didn’t know what to say. Should I go for the practical or the personal? What would you say? We reached a wooden door studded with gold around the frame, and behind that was another door, which was purple, and he pulled out some keys and opened that one to reveal an office with a silver table and a bowl full of fruit I had never seen before.

I said, “Mr. Spielberg, can you tell me just one thing, out of everything in your long career in entertainment. What is the secret to wisdom?

There was a twinkle in his eye as he leaned close and whispered,

“Rey is a Skywalker and Leia’s her mommy.”

Self Loathing Emergency Kit

Self Loathing Emergency Kit:
1) Are you believing the lie that your success is directly proportionate to the amount of effort you put into it?
It is not. The world may not recognize the achievements you made in even attempting what you did. But you can. Take some time and be proud of yourself for your effort.

2) Are you believing the lie that you deserve more?
You don’t. Every opportunity is a gift from God. Take some time and list your blessings.

3) Are you believing the lie that your self worth is dependent on how much you physically achieve?
Remove that thought.
Your value is eternally and exponentially greater than you or I can even imagine, it is granted and judged by The Lord, who has prized you highly enough to die for. As bad as you may esteem yourself, you do not have the authority to strip away that value. Practice seeing yourself as Christ does you.

4) Do you believe that you’re a piece of poop 💩 who can’t or won’t ever do anything good because of some internal flaw?
Also untrue. Everyone grows at their own pace, in a spiritual journey that is determined by God and will be brought to completion. (Phil. 1:6)

5) Do you believe any other lie, in short, that places control of your life in your hands, and not the Father’s? Meditate on growing closer to Him and not inflating or deflating yourself.

Lazy

I want to speak out on something. I’ve decided I no longer believe in lazy people. There are only people who are meeting their goals, and people who haven’t started yet. I woke up this morning and said “I’m a lazy writer. I’m depressed. I’m sick. I’m addicted to Facebook.” I am tired of wonderful people being sabotaged by themselves, when you should be your own biggest champion.

No. Everyone is valuable. I am no longer accepting the lie that for some reason you are not entitled to your personal happiness–and thus, I might not be as well. Quit telling me you’re out of the game.

Life is like a gym, and you’re the kid that can’t lift the 5 lb. bar. The first day you go in, everyone’s going to laugh at you. But if you go in every day, you’ll move up to the 10, the 15, and the 20, and you’ll still be working the gym when everyone else stopped showing up.

Everyone has different challenges. And yeah, it’s going to be hard. But it’s going to be a lot harder if you define yourself by those challenges, and that’s not how Jesus sees you either. Every day and every second can be a new beginning. I am no longer accepting negativity in my life.

One Year after Pulse

One year ago on this day 49 people were killed at the Orlando gay nightclub “Pulse” on its weekly Latin Night. More than 50 more were injured and about 200 more escaped as survivors. It was the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and I would urge you to do some research on the stories of the victims.

When I heard about the news I was on vacation at the beach, and at first I brushed it off as “just another shooting.” (A pretty lame response, I’m sorry to admit.) But when I looked closer, what I found shocked and angered me. Though we can only move forward if we forgive, I find myself thinking about this event so often. 49 people killed by an American citizen.

I struggle to find words to make sense of it. How can we fight terrorism overseas when we are so busy fighting it on our own soil?

Before he was killed, the shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS. But it was a gay nightclub, and it was Latin Night. It is hard to stay complacent when entire communities are targeted in this way, and unchecked bigotry threatens everyone’s security. I pray for a world where we all show a better side of humanity. We WILL get there. But we have not arrived there yet, and I remain upset.

Rest in Peace.

My Easter

For the last 3 1/2 months, I have been living as if there were no redemption.

This entire weekend, the only thoughts I’ve had about Easter were how “ill-prepared” I was spiritually to face it.
Despite the entire religious observance being about grace, I have felt guilt at not spending enough time meditating and being “Christian enough” to fully appreciate it. I have had only a dull apathy.

This morning, I overslept and my inaction caused me to miss the celebration at my home church.

I have been praying that on Easter, God would show up, and wreck my life, and I think it is in that space of inability to pave the way for my own salvation that God works most.

When we judge ourselves, or when we are in a time in life where we only seem to encounter judgment, punishment, and no mercy–in other words, when we are in the Wilderness, it is easy to forget that the reason we continue living through it at all is the hope of our reward in heaven.

We are a fallen people, and though our world is being redeemed, it is full of self-inflicted darkness.
But the promise of Easter is that we have the power to overcome sin through the penalty having been transacted on the cross.

Because of that truth, nothing else in our lives matters but the love we show to each other, and our overflowing worship to God. The one is fueled by the other. Our enemies on earth are the very same people that Jesus died for, and they are the ones we must love the most relentlessly.

I hope wherever you are, you have had a blessed Easter.

The Tension of Blogging OR Yet another Perfunctory Introduction

May 13, 2014

There’s something about blogging that has always seemed inherently hypocritical to me.

I won’t pretend to have read thousands of blogs, but from what I can tell, in the “blogging community” the advice is to be aware of your audience. In other words, are you writing for others to be entertained, informed, or connected, or are you writing mostly for yourself? I tend to run a bit long-winded in my posts, and judge my work in its content and length mostly by my own standards. This way, any readers interested in regularly following will get an accurate representation of myself, and my online persona will more or less fit the mold I see for myself in real life. To go morbid, much of my writing serves as an attempt to account for myself should I die.

To me, this seems to be an incredibly narcissistic goal. For who am I to judge myself, or claim that my thoughts have a more valuable weight simply for having been written down? Yet, by much encouragement, I’ve created a blog for others to read, besides myself. Moreso, in the writing of said blog I keep in mind that I will have an audience. My editing and maintenance of this online journal is done in service to others. Do you see the tension, now?

Taking it one layer deeper, of course, we could analyze this entire post and interpret it as a backdoor apology, offered before I’ve really written anything. In short, I pray that in following my internal call to write my thoughts and publish them for a public eye, I won’t offend, I won’t waste your time, and I won’t be untrue. But in the end, I will still keep a blog.

MND 5.1.440-447, -William Shakespeare