Winter is near and all the field mice are busy preparing and gathering food for the cold months ahead - all except for Frederick. Always the daydreamer, Frederick sits on a rock soaking up the sun rays, much to the dismay of his fellow mice. However, as it turns out, when darkness sets in and winter has come, Frederick has stored enough sunlight to warm the hearts and feed the spirits of his fellow mice. His radiance carries them through a dark and cold winter.
While I am certainly not a daydreamer, I aspired to be Frederick, full of light and radiance. I studied film and moved to Germany to direct theater plays. In the words of Faulkner, I sought “to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move.”
Today, as I drove home from a nine hours workday, I thought about Frederick, the mouse. I reflected that the one thing those hard-working mice do not realize is that artists wake up to a blank canvas every day. By evening, there is the expectation that it is filled. The artist goes to bed and wakes up to a white canvas again 24 hours later, week after week, year after year, however long they manage to color in the void. A decade of highs and lows, I certainly had my share of vacuums.
The few occasions I did complain about not being valued adequately (as in not getting paid for the work), or described how I had lived in the basement of a theater for three months, the general response was the same: “Some of us have to do real work. I wish I had the time to write poetry and make movies like you.”
The fear of losing our moxie, the loneliness and the isolation become a part of life. Some of my friends reached for the stars and actually caught one. They live their dreams and trust that when the dream fades away, they will find another one. But for the majority of us the dream factory Hollywood is exactly that, a factory with assembly lines. Cast and crews work together side by side, contributing their part. Day after day, these dream workers check back in. They take pride in the fact that their contribution is an important, essential part of the whole.
As for me, I consider myself lucky to have seen both sides, and blessed to have found my dream along the way. Someday I hope to be the lawyer, who can shine her light on others and help those in need to find justice.
Making art is a job, and an important one. And until we have been there and done that, we should be grateful for the Fredricks in the world who warm our hearts and rekindle our spirits.