Ups and Downs and In and Out and Through and About
17 Mar 2023

Esteemed Brethren,

Herewith the whine:

I am well on my way to being healthy. It’s been a very tricky March this year… first, I had a painful trapezius gym injury that made me inactive and very grumpy for about a week – and then I was hit with the most Godawful Celtic Pestilence, possibly emitting from the infernal bottomless holes of Hecate herself. Flu. Man down, two weeks. I haven’t seen the gym for 3 weeks and that’s not like me – I need my training, crave it like a fish craves water, because it is the one place I can escape my mind and just be my body.

With that off the table, my mind fared no better. Flu meant I felt thick, couldn’t really be too productive, got tired quickly, found it hard to focus and generally spent a lot of time ‘watching and learning’ as opposed to ‘working and putting out’. It happens. Men are babies and I’m no exception. I am very lucky to have my co-pilot and partner around… without him expressing very deep sympathy and treating me with all manners of remedies, I fear, with a gulp, I might have joined Granma Betsy in the hereafter.

I must have been extra impossible to live with.

This is, of course, all run of the mill and pedestrian. People get colds and flus. Hardly the end of the world.

Only thing is it was also in that panicked and chaotic final stretch of pre-production for my short movie Invisibles… with a looming deadline because actual production – shooting, actors, lights, special effects, sound, lights, locations, travel, bills – start this weekend.

There is an insane amount of work involved, juggling and logistics. With my producer filming shipwrecks in Asia on a different gig, I became first in line for any fire. And Mother Universe – being occasionally a callous sort of bitch – obliged and unloaded about fifty years worth of ammo crates on the project, just as death’s door kept clapping open and shut on my run down physique in an irritating staccato.

Poor me, poor poor me.

But then – that’s exactly the way life happens, ain’t it? Not in neat progressions that obey central plots and appropriately spaced sub-arcs. It happens only – any meaning and structure is just shit you invent and paste on it afterwards, to make yourself feel better or help you cope psychologically. Doesn’t make the meaning and the value any less authentic or valid, just because its a fiction from you. It matters, helps, heals. But don’t fool yourself and feel life itself applauds your little symbolisms. It moves as it always does, an immense spiral galaxy full of cold coincidence and inevitable cause and effect.

You just grab your bags and go with it.

Or not. Whenever life gets tough, I remind myself it’s better than the alternative.

Because what a tale it is to tell – that time I got muscle pain and flu just as my first film started shooting – a perfect storm in which – tomorrow, if I by God make it there – I will be the hero.

And all these problems that you solve – day in, day out, no matter where you’re at or what you do – are incidental – the garnish, the ornamentation – of the grand missions you are trying to accomplish. Wanna raise some fine kids. Wanna make marriage work. Wanna change the world. Heal that illness. Make stuff better. Help folks. Or, if you are completely useless, like me, entertain folks a little bit by telling stories.

Life is an adventure – and without FEAR and OBSTACLES there is never any adventure.

It’s the price of the ticket, the entry fee, that which you pay to enjoy this very fragile and temporary adventure on this crazy goofball of a planet. Suck it up buttercup – because you got books to write, movies to make, plots to hatch, a country to contribute to, youngens to mentor, hearts to touch, people to impact, a revenue service to pay, suppliers to feed, a business to run and a future eulogy to supply with ample positive material.

And then the muscle pain and flu and pre-production perfect storm becomes a war story – a feather in your cap – a prize.

Back in the old country, I had a friend called Blaise Koch. In his autobiography “In, Out, Through & About” – he recounted his life as an actor on stage and screen – and the peculiar and subjectively highly meaningful bruises and bumps so foundational and inevitable to all of us humans. It’s a little rhyme and routine he learned while knitting. And when the going gets tough – I think what he was trying to say – at least to me at that time – its best to stick to your knitting and keep going. Blaise is no longer with us – but he wasn’t the kind of star anyone could forget.

The past few weeks were challenging and uncomfortable – but I was well taken care of, have a relatively good (if somewhat bloated and inefficient and perpetually in need of crisis funding and very nationally expensive if individually generous socialised medicine) health service, enjoyed great meds, good food, friends, and a partner who really – miraculously – loves me.

Can’t bitch about any of that – although I will continue to vote like a pissed off taxpayer from here into all eternity – because someone also has to stand up for those of us suckers expected to pay for all the fabulous empathy and humanity floating around.

(You didn’t expect me to be relatable without sticking in that one barb to show I’m still a grumpy old asshole, surely, by now?)

Thing is – it’s been a crappy three weeks. And next week is D-Week. I’m actually doing it. Lights, Camera and Action.

There’ll be posts on Extremely Foreword… the Subscriber’s Club newsletter will hit on Sunday and not Friday… progress on the novel will continue… work behind the scenes never stopped even for a second and won’t now… and I’ll be working with a tremendous small army of highly talented individuals.

And the kid from the Apartheid mining town who spent his youth escaping into movies will make the first movie of his own.

And that, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends, is certainly an adventure worth a little bit of flu.