Jon of All Trades

Sprawl

Jon September 2, 2014 Blog, Inside My Head No Comments on Sprawl

In last week’s article I talked about how that Arcade Fire song, “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” made me feel many of the feels. The biggest reason for that is this video, created by Brooks Wheelan. He notes that “if you only film one second out of your day and put it to music, it looks like your day was much cooler than it actually was.”

I can attest to this as I recently hung out with my friend Carson who, five years after the fact, pulled from his trunk the compilation video, created by my sister-in-law, that played at our rehearsal dinner and wedding. How he came to possess this video I’ll never know, but we popped it into the DVD player, and damn if your life doesn’t take on added meaning and significance when set to music. I don’t know why this is, it just is.

But Brooks is only partially right, however. I first saw this video thanks to the AV Club. They summarize the video thusly:

“Wheelan spends the first half of the year doing stand-up and skateboarding around Los Angeles before, sometime in August, getting the gig on SNL and being thrown into a world of costumes, Kenan Thompson, and a lot less sunshine. It’s a heartwarming look at what happens when someone’s dream comes true, and an interesting take on what goes on behind the scenes at one of America’s most beloved and storied shows.”

I was particularly struck by the phrase “a heartwarming look at what happens when someone’s dream comes true.” I think because whenever I hear “Sprawl II” I always think of that phrase, the two are now inextricably linked in my brain to where one always means the other. I can’t think of pursuing a dream without hearing that song; I can’t hear that song without thinking about pursuing a dream.

And although I’ll likely never film a few seconds of my day, I wonder what my year would look like.

If we start just at my birthday last year, I had just finished losing 40 lbs (which I’ve successfully kept off for this whole year), continued to improve my new home, went to San Diego for Jamie’s bachelor party then on to his wedding in Italy, nearly lost my mind with depression and anxiety thanks to untimely deaths, work stress, and infertility, vacationed in Cabo San Lucas, improbably defeated infertility, created my podcast, returned to San Diego, reconnected with an incredible amount of people from my life, traveled to New York, ran two 5ks, and currently sit on the precipice of extraordinary change.

That’s a pretty goddamn great year by any stretch. I know not exactly what awaits me, all I know is that I feel like I’m becoming the person I want to be more every day. I think about who I was when I wrote this, and that person seems extremely far away. Thank God. The me who wrote that was in a place of hopelessness – beaten down by the corporate grind, disconnected from the people he cares about, and unable to conceive new life.

Now what lies ahead of me is new life, and a new life. My life is going to change – people around me continually remind of me that, speaking more in practicality than metaphor – and I cannot wait for it to.

I used to spend a lot of time looking in reverse. Writing, by necessity, dictates that. You pull from the things you know, feel, and experience to craft meaning for whomever reads it. And as a blogger, you dig deep to find those things from your past that inform the present, shape your worldview, or impart significance on something you’ve learned. It’s inwardly and historically focused.

I had been thinking about creating a podcast for over a year, but continued to drag my feet in its assembly for reasons I can’t exactly pinpoint, but that can be adequately summarized by simply stating “creating things is hard.” When we discovered the impossible was in fact possible, and that Kristin was pregnant, I moved my ass and got this fucking thing created.

Yes, the practical demands on my time come birth would be a significant challenge, but more importantly, knowing a new life would be coming into the world looking to me as one of the primary shapers of her worldly experience, I didn’t want to be the guy I was; I wanted to be the guy I’d aspired to become. It motivated me to lose weight, it motivated me to expand my pallet, it motivated me start to running, and finally, it motivated me to create.

Thinking about it now, if I were writing this as a fiction piece, I’d discard this metaphor for being too on-the-nose, but creating a new life truly motivated me to create more in my own life. I work my ass off to bring you this podcast, and I can think of few better ways to invest my time. That has also motivated me to do things I’ve always wanted to do like host Open Screen Night.

I connect with passionate people all the time, and by always looking forward – to the next interview, to the next project, to the next chance to connect with someone new or someone old in a new way – rather than look behind and in, I’m finally becoming the person I always wanted to be.

So when I watch that Brooks Wheelan video, I’m inspired to keep going. Sometimes I’m scared shitless about all this change, but that’s why having that video and that Arcade Fire song as reminders of what’s possible is such a nice burst of inspiration as a tonic for those moments of fear. I want my life video to show my dream coming true.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Brooks Wheelan got fired after only one season of SNL, which I think goes to show you that the journey never actually ends, you just start over and create new ones all the time. That’s fine. It’s never going to look exactly the way you picture it.

I don’t know what my life will look like a year from now. But for the first time in a long time, I’m incredibly optimistic about it. Thanks for continuing to be a part of it.

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