But I'm scared. Because I'm embarking on something that might actually be meaningful. This last semester it was really driven home to me. I didn't care how I did in any of my non-creative classes. I mean I cared in that I wanted to do well and get Phi Beta Kappa and other superego stuff, and I also enjoyed the actual process of being in class and learning or discussing materla. I didn't, however, care in the "This is a measure of who I am" way. I don't imagine I'll ever care about grades like that again, but I care about writing and filmmaking and other forms of art in that way. They matter to me in a way that a 25 page paper on the contradictions of American reproductive policy just plain doesn't.
So I'm scared. Because maybe I'm not cut out for this. Maybe I'm not going to be the best and the brightest, and then what do I have? Being told you're special gets under your skin. You end up needing it to get along because tied into the "you're special" rhetoric is the idea that being average is...well...bad. At least for you. You've got so much potential.
There's an easy way out of course. Go from elite college to elite graduate school or lawschool back to elite college or on to elite lawfirm. Let them funnel you upwards and start relying on high income to make you special. As long as you've got the Range Rover and the double D girlfriend you're still a somebody, right?
It's tempting. I think I could do it, I really do. I could sublimate my deviant impulses and dive right in to one of those worlds and stay safe.
I'd be miserable though.
I saw "The Cooler" this morning. It was a film that I'd been meaning to see, I like William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin both quite a bit, and it seemed like an interesting story. It was, to a degree. I wouldn't call it a great film, it had a lot of flaws that I could pick apart for paragraphs, but I'm not going to because that's not important at the moment. What is important is the message the film attempts to beat you over the head with. Bernie, Macy's character, is a loser, capital L. That's really what he is. It's his job, it's his life, it's his persona. He's a reformed gambling addict with a son he never sees and not much reason to get up in the morning.
But his life isn't horrible. And he has hope. That's something that some critics have criticized about the movie, if Bernie is supposed to be such a big loser then why does he have a stable, improving life? The answer is because you're not a loser if you don't have anything to lose. He can't be desperate, he can't be homeless and hungry. He has to be comfortable on some level or the character doesn't work.
Anyway, the message of "The Cooler" is that you have to take gambles, but only when what you're gambling for is worth it. The film is set in Vegas and full of characters whose lives revolve or have revolved around casinos. Yet the secret truth of Vegas is that Casinos aren't venues for gambling, they are venues for making money. Suckers gamble, the house always comes out ahead.
The Cooler is about gambling when it counts and keeping your money when it doesn't. That's a good life lesson. Staying on the safe and narrow isn't always the solution, but if you go for broke all the time you will...well...go broke. It's picking your battles that makes the difference. That's why it's so interesting that the only card game the movie ever shows is Blackjack. Blackjack is a game of skill but not in how you take cards, that's really a formula more than anything else. It's how you bet that matters there. That's how you do battle with the odds.
As for the embarassmenet function, well it's embarassing to go right back to school. It's sort of an admission that I didn't get it right the first time AND an admission that I can't become a superb success in the real world without more seasoning. But that doesn't matter so much. Will there be issues? You're damned skippy there will. I'll bump into people who will ask me what I'm still doing there. I'll be in film classes with people who thought I was a senior and possibly with...well..that's a bridge that will be crossed or hopefully ignored if it presents itself.
But I gotta just say fuck that and make the effort I need to make to be happy. Because Bernie's story is of someone who finally returns to happiness in his 50's. He finds his opportunity for happiness and he grabs ahold the best he can. I'm young still. 22. I think I see my happiness and while it may not have pink nipples and a tattooed ass and it may not love me yet I think I need to at least think of doubling down and going for it.
There's the risk of failure, sure. There's the risk that I'll suck at it and never make anything of value. But there's also the chance of happiness. That's part of what makes it scary, because like Bernie I don't know how to be happy, at least not on a consistant basis.
I'm willing to learn though.