Nature doesn’t like me. I don’t know why. It just doesn’t.
I try to be respectful. I not only recycle, but I also reduce…or, at least, I’ve never thrown food away.
I barely leave my apartment, so my literal footprint is pretty small—9-1/2 wide, for those of you keeping track. And other than my laptop and coffee maker, I barely use any electricity. Nor do I use the heat, so if you come over for a visit, bring a sweater.
And I believe that all life is sacred…which is why my apartment is filled with four types of spiders, two varieties of sow bugs, and one rather large species of house centipede. As an aside, if any of you ladies are entomologists or just like to get your arachnid freak on, call me.
Hell, I barely wear any clothes at home, preferring to wander au naturel…again, call first before visiting.
And yet, for all this benign behaviour, Nature wants me dead.
Every Spring, 10,000 species of plants gather around my apartment in a massive botanic circle jerk, spraying me and my immune system with a dazzling array of ejaculates green, gold and white. And they do this knowing full well that in another life, my white cells worked for Al Qaeda. For me, the months immediately following March are Anaphylaxis and Can’t.
You know when you make pancakes and first pour the batter into the scorching pan? Within moments, the batter bubbles up and bursts? That was me as a kid on a cloudy day. On a sunny day, I could watch Enola Gay footage and jealously think, “At least they had a breeze.”
And the water’s no better. Pond, stream, lake, ocean, they all think of me as chum, and not in the friendly sense. I’ve yet to find a boat I cannot fall out of. A canoe? An outdoor bathtub. A kayak? A restraining device designed to pin me underwater. A rowboat? Topless submersible.
Currents. Waves. Tides. All mechanisms to keep me from remembering where I left the air. I once went body surfing in Oahu and got so disoriented by the swirling currents that I flew home from San Francisco. You worry about an undertow? I’ve never experienced anything smaller than an underfoot.
And regardless of my home BioDome project, all of that goodwill is forgotten the moment I emerge from my apartment and become a blood bank for what must otherwise be the most anemic bugs on the planet. Even the vegan insects view my flesh as hyper-ripe banana paste.
And despite the most astringent soap and strongest deodorant, I apparently offer flies the personal banquet of a 6-week-old corpse vacationing in the Louisiana Bayou. I am the no-pest strip of the bed bug world.
Red-winged black birds strafe me. Squirrels can’t tell walnut meat from finger meat. And wasps see themselves as my personal EpiPen.
I tell you all this because I am travelling to Los Angeles in a couple of weeks, and so I would like to pre-emptively apologize for the events that will finally bring beachfront charm to the Vegas strip.
NOTE: This piece is written as my contribution to a wonderful creative assembly called “Tell Me A Story” organized by my friend Will Ennis, a lovely actor in the city of Toronto. You can see his acting reel below.
A friend of mine recently posted the above sign on her Facebook page, and I had no choice but to share it with my Facebook community (and now you). Although I find the sentiment a little negatively toned as worded, I completely agree with it.
As many of you know, I jumped off a cliff about 18 months ago, completely turning my life upside down in pursuit of the dream of being a screenwriter. To do that, I have made a large number of sacrifices to the way my life was, but in the interim, I have discovered some wonderful things—about me and my friends—that I might never have learned if I hadn’t.
Last week, I had drinks with another friend, someone who had made a similar jump to mine. Like me, he has had some wonderful times during this phase of his life, but he is also struggling with doubt and the sense that the years of effort haven’t paid off as he would have liked. Doubt is a thing I understand.
At this moment, I have no doubt or at least not about my dream. It seems as real and viable as ever. Its realization is simply a matter of time in and work on my part. I revel in these moments and wish my friend could feel the same way right now.
When doubt does creep in, however, I do my best to give it context.
The doubt: Can I afford this conference? Is this screenplay any good? Have I made a mistake? Am I a fraud?
The context: What is the alternative?
I look back at my life before I made the jump and I realize that I can’t go back to that. This is not to say that it was all miserable…I had love and support; I enjoyed aspects of my jobs; I met wonderful people. But in many ways, all of those positives were for naught back then because I was miserable.
I was living my life for other people. I based my identity on my job and what I did for other people. I was only as good, as valuable, as loved as other people told me I was, and deep inside, I truly suspected they were lying. Through no fault of theirs, I couldn’t have faith in them because I didn’t have faith in me.
So, when I finally jumped off the cliff, I realized that what I was risking was a life of well masked misery and distrust. Hardly much of a risk from my perspective.
I understand that others cannot always jump as wholeheartedly as I did. They have responsibilities that I did not have.
I have no children. My wife and I were separating for other reasons (nice to say she remains my strongest and most loving advocate and supporter). My family responsibilities had all but disappeared. My jumping would leave no one in the lurch.
So, maybe you can’t jump like I did. I’m not suggesting that it is right for everyone. But to not jump at all in pursuit of a passion is folly.
Every day you maintain the lie, whatever your personal lie is, is another day you risk it all.
It will be scary. You will have doubts. But you’re not doing anyone any favours, least of all yourself, by continuing to pursue activities, attitudes or a life that is crushing you.
I hope my friend relocates the wonder in what he is doing and continues to explore his adventure. If he will let me, I am happy to help him in any way I can.
He is a very lucky man because he is surrounded by love and support from a community of people who adore him and want him to be happy. I hope he can take energy from that. I know I do.