The bible, getting hungry & scuba diving…
I know that the word “bible” is packed with all sorts of meaning for different people, good and bad… but try to stay with me here:
There’s a story, in said bible, about a group of people called the ‘Israelites’. They’re a people who at their lowest, most desperate moment, cry out to God for help. God hears their cries from the midst of oppression, and he steps in (cue Moses, some crazy plagues and the parting of the red sea).
Then, later when times are good, they forget about the hard times, they forget about God, and end up making poor choices that result in their downfall.
Then when they find themselves at their lowest moments again, they cry out for help, and Big Guns Upstairs steps in again… and the cycle goes round and round.
Regardless of what you think of the bible, this story taps into a fundamental aspect of being a human; we all go through good and bad times.
Now most of us try to forget about our darkest moments, which is actually a normal, healthy thing to do; to let go and to move on. But there also seems to be value in remembering where you came from. This ‘art of remembering’ gives you perspective.
There is something born out of suffering.
So for me, some of my toughest times creatively, have been unemployment and working in menial jobs. Jobs where the dream of filmmaking was relegated to the back burner, so that money could be made and rent/food could be bought.
I’m sure many reading this have been in a similar poistion and remember job hunting, heck you might even be in the process of it right now. It sucks right?
The process that I fondly describe as “crotch-sandpaper for the soul”; of looking for work that you really want to be doing (sometimes whilst at work you don’t really want to be doing), whilst fighting rejection and staying positive. Then for creatives, throw in working in your spare time for next-to-no-money, and swallow a few phrases like “it’ll look great on your CV”… and I think we’ve begun to paint a bit of a picture here.
I couldn’t find the job I wanted for a long ole while, but was lucky enough to make my own and to start up Vanilla Bear Films. I’d always tried to make the most of whatever job I was in, and am actually really grateful for the people I met and the lessons I learnt along the way. But there was one lesson that stuck with me that I don’t think I could’ve learnt any other way…
Not making films, made me hungry.
I’d worked as a filmmaker and freelancer part-time for about about 6 years, but it never satisfied. The frustration and difficulty of not doing what I wanted to do, it created a drive and a hunger in me that I never had before.
There was something born out my “suffering”. It was hunger.
So, onto scuba diving. Which is exactly where you thought this article needed to go next, right?
When I was 18 and on a family holiday in Australia, my brother, sister and I all got our first chance to scuba dive!
I remember going through the mini-training course and being paired up with another 1st timer, Steven (at least I think that was his name… either that or my imagination has added Scuba Steve to the memory). We set off in the boat and got to swim around this sunken ship and coral reef, just off the coast. It was incredible.
However, a moment that has solidified in my memory, was that of Steve and I swimming at the back of the pack.
It’s worth mentioning that beforehand, our instructor had told us all about the reef, and how 10cm of coral could’ve taken about a year to grow, and that the whole reef itself would’ve been thousands of years old.
Back to Scuba Steve and I at the back of the pack. I watched on ahead as our instructor swam over a branch of coral that was sticking out from the reef. I then watched as my brother and sister followed him by swimming over the branch. I then watched as, for some unknown reason, Steve swam underneath the branch and ended up catching it with his foot, and this 2 metre length of coral branch broke off and fell to the sea bed right in front of me! Steve carried on unaware of his aqua-clumsiness, unaware of the years of natural coral he had just kicked to the ground… and I had did my best to avoid debris, steady myself, and as the adrenaline pumped through my body I started to laugh. Laughing hard underwater is not a great idea if you intend on breathing!
A funny ole situation to find yourself in, and one that oddly highlighted my mortality as I focused in and calmed myself to catch my breath.
Anyway, all of this to say:
Sometimes it takes being underwater for you to realise how precious each and every breath is.
There isn’t really any difference between breathing normally, or breathing underwater whilst scuba diving. When we came into this world we did nothing to earn our first breath. It was a gift. The breath you just took, was a gift.
We all go through good times, and we all go through some really rough times.
And for some reason (like scuba diving is to breathing) sometimes it takes not being able to work, to make you realise how precious working actually is. (It’s crazy how the joy of finding a job can quickly be forgotten and complacency sets in.)
But unlike the Israelites, I’m determined not to go through that cycle of desperation, momentary happiness giving way to complacency and then back round again. But rather, the hunger that was stirred in me, that is something I want to remember, that is something I want to keep.
That hunger is what drives me to create the most incredible films I possibly can, and it’s gratefulness that keeps me there.
Maybe you’re going through dark times? It’s not much consolation, but I believe that none of it is wasted and out of the rubbish times, there will be good.
And maybe you’re not going through tough times? But I think it might be helpful to remind yourself of the gift of every day. Get hungry, and stay hungry.
And I know this has been a long blog post… but you’re still breathing right?
That breath you took, it’s a gift.