I then decided to change my side to six other movies of my own choosing. So throughout this three week visit together, we’ve been watching movies (along with smatterings of Community episodes when we don’t want to watch a two hour movie). My selections include: Mission:Impossible 3, Shawshank Redemption, Vantage Point, Away We Go and of course, my traditional Christmas movies, Die Hard 1 and 2.
Kyla, went the exact opposite of me and included: Letters from Juliet, Sydney White, The Last Song, Music and Lyrics, Mulan and Wedding Singer.
The only reason I included the actual titles because if it were me reading this post, I’d want to know, but it really has nothing to do with what I want to talk about. They don’t call me Rabbit Trail Jones for nothing. Or ever.
Watching her movies was exactly what I expected out of them, however I was struck as I watched Letters from Juliet. The movie itself was nothing special or unusual. It was the typical romantic comedy where the guy and girl don’t like each other at the start, but in the end (spoiler alert if you’ve never seen a romantic comedy before) she breaks up with her fiance and winds up with the guy she used to hate.
What struck me was the fiance who was the usual trope of a guy who is so into what he does that he completely neglects the girl and eventually it is what leads her to leave him. It is blindingly obvious to you as the audience to see how the guy is forgetting about the girl and it is easy to blur his actions as being a selfish jerk. Then when the girl goes to break up with him, he is flabbergasted to have this news come out of nowhere and you in the audience are incredulous with his stupidity and are so happy that she is leaving the jackass.
Except for me. I saw the thing I fear I may become and to me it’s not as black and white as it seems like these movies paint the situation.
The fiance was wrapped up in starting his new restaurant and was obsessed with finding the perfect ingredients and elements for his project he dearly loves. At the same time he has affection for the girl. You see it when he realizes her implication that she’s leaving him. He tells his kitchen full of people to stop what they’re doing and to clear out and then he tries to negotiate for the girl. However, it was too little, too late. He had neglected her.
In his podcast called “You Made It Weird”, Pete Holmes, one of my favourite comedians, recounted how his marriage of six years fell apart when he was twenty-eight. She left him not because he had cheated on her or treated her badly, but she described it as not being his first love. It wasn’t that he was always away. It was the other way around. He spent much time with her throughout the day, but the hard part was his mind was elsewhere. He was driven or as he says, he felt called. He was always thinking about comedy and his bits and his conversation was slanted by the perspective of a comedian.
I know for myself that I tend to get the same way with my projects. I tend to leave the world behind, including my own needs, let alone another person’s. I get wrapped up and want to delve right into making my projects as great as I can. It’s the thing that simultaneously created some great presentations on the Summer Ministry Team and caused me to sometimes alienate myself from the rest of the team and become reluctant to share the work.
A common conversation on the podcast is what kind of person is a suitable partner for a comedian. Do you want someone who is a fan? Someone who is indifferent or may not even like your stuff but supportive? Should they be witty themselves or should they not be? The conversation often leaves at an impasse.
Watching that movie with Kyla curled up next to me left me thinking about what Pete went through and I know myself to be the same. It seems like you have to choose one or the other or do both halfhearted and be good at neither. I’m not saying it’s impossible to walk the line of forming a strong relationship and being called, but it requires much wisdom, awareness and grace from both.
Unfortunately, it seems like culture, both inside and outside the church makes it seem like you’re the ridiculous one to pursue your calling because that’s not as important as your relationship. Instead, it seems like that if you just invest fully into your relationship then you don’t have to worry about your career or calling, it takes care of itself. People are magically supposed to be just awesome at what they do.
I just went through that flip-side with Kyla here. I knew that this was one of the few times that I would have with Kyla here and I spent much of the time with her while I had a show coming up and often I would spread myself out and decided to sacrifice sleep so that I could have my cake and eat it too. The show turned out fine, but it concerns me of future endeavors. Can I really keep up that pace?
Of course, I know no one (or people based in reality) really thinks that you can do anything automatically great and that it requires time, but I do think we have expectations that can be hard and perhaps impossible to live up to.
My thoughts bring me to how can I balance both? What does it look like? Like the fiance in the movie, I adore this girl in my life but will my all-consuming obsession with my projects lead me to neglect her, just like the fiance? Or will my relationship lead me to let myself neglect the refinement of my abilities and thus make anything I create a pointless venture?
Perhaps by me writing this, it’s a sign that I am aware of the challenge ahead and I will be better prepared to handle it. The other great thing is that Kyla has shown that she wants me to strive for my dreams and has shown her support for me. I hope that I can find my solution for Pete Holmes’ quandary, because I don’t want to become another example of the clueless, jackass boyfriend trope in some romantic comedy because I’ve come to discover that romantic comedy are a bit too predictable for my taste.
"Cause everywhere I seem to be
I am only passing through
I dream these days about the sea
Always wake up feeling blue
Wishing I could dream of you
So if I stumble
And if I fall
And if I slip now
And lose it all
And if I can't be all that I could be
Will you, will you wait for me?"
- "Wait" from Alexi Murdoch's album "Time Without Consequence"