March 23, 2010

Being There

I thought there was a Robin Williams movie called Being There. Ever since I saw the movie decades ago. Turns out the name of it is Being Human. I don’t remember much about it, since I saw it so long ago, but the Robin Williams character goes through four lifetimes and repeats some of the same situations.

Why did I think it was called Being There? I remember when I saw it not knowing what the movie was about. It made me think about things a lot and puzzle over things. It was a time in my life in which I was on the emotional edge. I was trying to get myself together but spent most of the time loathing myself. Avoiding a lot of things, feeling left out, afraid, and lonely, feeling poor. I couldn’t do a lot of things because I didn’t have much money and I wouldn’t let myself do things even if money was no object. Afraid. Then, I don’t know, I went through “I am woman, hear me roar” phase. I let myself get angry. I started exercising. I started confronting things. I started to tell myself, you know what, you are worth something. It was about this time that I watched Being Human.

One of the epiphanies of that time ~ and what I got out of this movie ~ was that a lot of life is just showing up. How do you make friends? You show up. You put in the effort. You’re there for them. How do you do well in school? You show up. You do the work. It’s not a matter so much of being brilliant; it’s a matter of being there. How do you become a success? SIMPLY BY BEING THERE.

This epiphany bowled me over. I mean, how simple is that? All you have to do is show up? Not give up. Not psych yourself out. Here I had the idea that you had to be a genius, you had to be exceptionally outgoing, you had to be an expert. But no. All you have to do is show up.

It’s the same thing with writing. It doesn’t take a genius ~ dare I say, it doesn’t even take talent. It takes showing up on the page day after day. To be a writer, all you have to do is write. You have to be there. It’s that simple.

What I’m Reading Today: Sam Shepard’s Cruising Paradise (thanks to a tip from my friend Rashena). These are the original flash fiction. Each story, often no more than two or three pages, is a little gem of such complexity and subtlety that it leaves you with an empty yearning. Sam, you rock. Not to mention he wrote the screenplay to Paris, Texas, of which my husband and I are cult followers.

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