I wrote this piece — it’s about the day I decided to make a change in my life that resulted in this crazy new adventure I’m going on.
“Stand clear of the closing doors please.”
The New York City subway lies to the extremes of, but rarely settles between, intriguing and loathing. A place for all people to commute, perform, and live — each subway car concocting its own emotion-rich stew.
The train slams as the tracks bend toward Manhattan, eluding any semblance of grace. Each face, buried in book, phone, or thought, seems to be unwittingly connected to its body as it’s drug toward its destination. Mine is no exception, I may have headphones in, but there is nothing coming out of them.
My mind is back on the beach in Rhode Island; those epiphanous slices of time are usually followed by ones of heightened banality.
A trip outside of the city always brings with it some comfort and unease, but to be back riding this train to go pick up a hard-drive to repeat an edit I’ve done 5 times before for a new set of content that lacks any originality in the first place while feeling my compensation is well below what is fair for the amount of time I’ll be…
…here we are again. How many times have I ridden this train of thought before? It’s not as though we all can always do what we want, when we want to, and be compensated fairly…even two of three is considered a huge victory….but the frequency of this thought has ceased intermittency and become an ever-blinking dot on each day’s radar.
A flood of thoughts pour in and the ability to decipher the cacophony of synapses firing off in my brain at that moment was, is, and will continue to be far beyond me. Small flashes of words, objects, and places are all I can even begin to remember from what was happening — perhaps that large iced coffee was a bit aggressive on this particular morning, but how could I have known there was an uncontainable charge within me and that adding caffeine to it was like dropping kerosene on a wildfire.
“Hey dude, what are you doing here today?”
I looked up…somehow I was already off the train, 10 blocks from the station, past security, and up two floors exiting an elevator.
“Uhhh, just picking up a hard drive.”
I very quickly exited this conversation, still unaware of how I was here. I kept my head down and navigated through modernized dividers that this company likes to call “pods” to avoid the negative perception of cubicles. In less than 60 seconds the hard drive was in my bag and I was in the elevator down.
This time, I will make sure I am aware of my movements…the last thing I want is to meet the outside of the M14 bus’ grill.
Between my silent headphones these pieces of thoughts began to filter into something that might resemble sense. I had already allowed myself to fall back into the exact thing I had reconciled against over the weekend: complacency built upon adequacy.
What gets it going though? What kicks things forward?
I rip the top off the kerosene bottle and squeeze as hard as I can, my brain ablaze with different combinations of interests creating incalculable outcomes that began stacking onto one another — theoretical Jenga that tips and sways but never quite crashes over. I began moving rapidly among all this - sliding out of one and onto another; up a flight of thoughts and cruising down a new possibility; turning the corner to find…
…I did it again. I was on Kelly’s block, my phone in hand, ringing.
We had talked about it the day before, but in that far-off dreamer sort of way - starting a company, a creative company where we do only what we are passionate about and make the best stuff we can. We would get a Westfalia, I know how much she loves them, and go on a road trip across the country.
“Hey, whats up?”
Am I really doing this?
I slam the buzzer.
Everything was a fury, but as the door opened it all settled.
“Do you want to do it? Am I being crazy?”
It took me hearing the words spilling out of my mouth to realize exactly what had been happening…and just how insane this all was. Did I really just ask her to leave New York, move in together into a van, and start a company? How could I…
There were lines blown in the sand, seeming as though the waves kissing shore had suddenly dried, to be preserved forever in wavy perfection. We hesitated to step onto the sand for fear of disturbing such natural order, paused a moment before bending toward the twenty degree winds blowing in from Block Island.
Moments before, we had sat window-side at Matunuck, Rhode Island’s Ocean Mist. Asking each other questions that we didn’t know the answers to, sipping bloody Mary’s as though an oracle would appear once the last bit of worcestershire sauce was lapped up. A local sat off to our right and ordered two beers for himself. He wore a sweatshirt that said “Brooklyn” on the front. The waitress checked our ids. “New York, huh?” she said with the lift of a well-penciled eyebrow. She probably could have known from the heavy bags between cheek and eyeball and the way that our sights were glued to the horizon, that we had neither rested nor seen the ocean in a while.
We had been putting off conversations of a next step. Every restaurant was too noisy, every roommate was watching “Modern Family” in the next room - it was too loud to think. You could easily keep working and working and never deliberately know why. Thoughts of change were like snowflakes fall on a warm day - they would melt as they hit the ground, never having a chance to accumulate into words.
The films and the photos that we worked on would go through layers upon layers of twisting and bending and watering down until we no longer recognized our vision. With each project, hopes would be high and promises made that never came to be. It begged the question: were these ever really ours to make?
I had been working, constantly pushing toward a goal that was my own - I had to get back to a place of intricate serenity before I was too old to appreciate it. But this seemed far off, as if I would be in an entirely different era before it happened. “Soon” was never in the elocution and “we” was never the pronoun.
On the cold beach, I listened to Brendan as he spoke, saying things that I knew he was feeling and some things that were entirely new.
“I don’t know if I want to move into another tiny New York apartment,” he said.
I looked up at his face, surprised and curious.
“Neither do I,” I said.
He began a focused ramble, a stream of consciousness with an intent that was hidden to both of us, but never elusive. We spoke of building something that was your own - anything really - and believing in it so deeply that you live and breathe this thing and at the end of the day you answer for everything that it is, because you have given all of yourself to make it. Failing isn’t an option when your strokes cover the entire canvas, held by the frame you built by hand.
Looking out into the vast blue of the February ocean, there was a simultaneous feeling of how large we felt in this moment and how minuscule we are in the world — two grains in the expansive shoreline. Such a stark change of scenery from our usual Brooklyn sights pushed our abilities to think and create something new; however there always comes a moment when the last wave crashes and you step back into the everyday.
We got in the car and drove in silence toward Jamestown. The thoughts were not done, but there was a palpable sense of relief. We had danced through the hard conversation - reading the other, matching their move, and making a step forward - discourse of emotion that only truly succeeds when each person risks vulnerability for the sake of openness.
We arrived at the southern tip of Jamestown, with a lighthouse in front and the sun setting off to our right — this time we remained in the car, the frigid sunset wind being held at bay by the thin Jeep doors. Perhaps it was the remote location, removed and breathtaking, that allowed the clarity to come forth, but we arrived with a feeling of resolution.
This was more than just a thought experiment. We both wanted to build something and we both wanted to leave New York.
What that was, we did not know yet.
the above photo was taken the day of - 20140228
This is a new thing I’m doing! Big post tomorrow about it all. In the meantime, check out the post above and follow vancrafted!
Grab your tickets here!
February Promo - First Batch with Brendan Banks
In case you hadn’t heard, I’m hosting a new live show called “First Batch”!
I made a promo to air all my grievances with hosting my own live show that I’m asking you to buy tickets to.
(tickets here: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=4084964)
I hope to see you all there!
I’m occasionally asked about my process, so I made this for you. This may not be what you had in mind. I had intended for this to be a raw-sketch to better sell the idea, but my sketches aren’t very interesting and half the time I can’t tell what’s going on in them, so I just kept going; I really should do a process-post some time…
That blank page vs that wide-eyed look.
Love passing Vinnie’s for these signs…they also do some awesome Adventure Time boards outside.
Just read this blurb from the live coverage at the keynote and got morbidly depressed.
This is the best.
The Ghosts of Creativity
Grant Snider speaks my language.
You always say yes to free baseball tickets
Looking at artistic style, animation techniques, and shot choices as inspiration for #DIGfilm