During my sophomore year of high school, I produced my first documentary film, appropriately titled The Sophomore Slump. Here’s the 7-minute trailer to the 45-minute “epic.”
Though it’s really not much by my present standards, watching it today leaves me surprised at the grasp I had at the time of video editing, shot composition, interviewing and storytelling techniques.
Re-watching it today also produces a grave revelation – the slump didn’t hit me back then. It’s hit me now, and it has been hitting for almost a year. Only a lightbulb moment can bring me back.
My life slowed down considerably since about April of last year, when I went to go visit a colleague of mine in Oklahoma City. I’d met her a few months prior at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) convention in Orlando, Fla.
That event is just a point of reference – correlation does not mean causation. But seriously, much of the actions since that point have been falling actions in the grander scheme of a life which I’d always considered to be pretty exciting.
Little by little, things started drying up. For example: although I’m still working on my bachelor’s, the classes since that spring semester in 2016 have become increasingly boring and uncaptivating.
Jobs? Well, one of two highlights was mentoring at one of the best high school journalism camps in Miami – and delivering a forgettable performance at that. The second was drafting and teaching a television production curriculum at a local summer camp – and delivering a much more solid yet still flawed presentation.
The only mainstay throughout this period was a promising stint as the office manager of a local print shop, that while staffed by the nicest of people, was ultimately too slow and too short-resourced to either captivate me creatively or at least keep me around. No one’s fault but my own and/or the economy’s there.
Creatively? Well, I did produce another big documentary in the time since visiting my friend. Of course, I’m talking about Sasha and The Cat, a big step forward for me in various technical and creative ways but ultimately hindered by the vanilla taste of a story about two friends who never stop getting along.
I don’t wish to continue writing before issuing an important disclaimer: I am incredibly thankful for all the opportunities I’ve received and I am in no way seeking to devalue them through an article like this.
These are my thoughts and they are pure, but they are just a section of what goes on in my mind. The fact that I’ve been battling a severe cold this past week doesn’t help brighten my mood much, either.
However, I’ve always held on to the belief that settling for minimal successes and becoming comfortable is the pitfall of human invention. Were man to have been happy driving a car all over the world, commercial passenger planes would have never soared the skies like they do today. Did he feel blessed for having the opportunity to own and operate an automobile? You bet he did! He just didn’t want to settle, is all.
I was on a constant upward slant, I feel, prior to that April trip. Perhaps a proper, 20/20 objective inspection of the events would prove otherwise but as far as I’m concerned, I was fully engrossed in one new thing after the other back then.
Between challenging coursework, writing for the college newspaper, dealing with a girlfriend, going out with friends and more stuff that I’m surely forgetting, I felt like I was at the top of my game.
I felt like my body was breathing all the air it could in and out; like I was pushing myself to an ever-increasing limit. I loved that feeling, and I hate how I’ve lost it even more.
I just feel so stuck. I can’t say I fully know why, but I feel like I’m not making progress either fast enough or in the right direction.
The print shop was supposed to be my mainstay gig while I finished up my last year at school, but that fizzled out and it wasn’t completely my fault.
I finally got hit up to do a video production gig a few weekends ago – having been about a year since the last one – and it was an absolute disaster, from a DSLR whose record time limit reared in at a critical time to an audio recorder who just needed someone to press its record button.
My best friend’s mother passed away right after I purchased a car of my dreams and rocked my world, as did the fact that he moved on to his new life with his girlfriend and dad in Houston a few months afterward.
Braces were put on a few months ago following a harsh stream of tears in the orthodontist’s bathroom as evil thoughts rushed into my head; the likes of “a 22-year old with braces? Little late there, buddy? Why didn’t you parents do this 10, 15 years ago? Shit’s really hit the fan now hasn’t it?”
I am, of course, fully aware, that my destiny is in no one’s hands but my own. There is no decision of mine I don’t make, and the very simplicity of that fact speaks volumes as to what I have to do to make change happen.
This horrible cold aside, I’m a healthy and vibrant individual with hair on his head, a pair of legs for walking, a pair of eyes for seeing, a brain for thinking, hands and arms to grab stuff with and a nose that works better than worse sometimes.
Others have done much more with much less, but to be quite frank, I’ve known this for a while now. I just haven’t had that lightbulb moment yet. You know, that moment that’s supposed to happen when you least expect it, when you’re sitting at a bus stop, or in traffic, or taking a shower, or eating a sandwich or lifting luggage. That lightbulb moment that’ll tell me, “duh! Just do this!”
That lightbulb moment whose brilliance will astound me, leaving me mouth agape at the very genius that’s emanated from my own otherwise dormant mind. I feel like those moments were less few and far between pre-Oklahoma … maybe I left them there; that Sunday afternoon. when I was nothing but smiles as I stood high above Turner Falls.
I don’t mind going back to look for them, but I don’t think they’re there. I think I have the moments within me, perhaps hidden away in the miles of intestinal tissue we humans have. I’m going to keep trying to find them.
But, hey, lightbulb moments … if you can hear me, please at least let me know you’re there. I miss you. A ton.