Part IV: A New Beginning
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to do.
- Kahlil Gibran
Life is full of trouble, death isn't.
--Zorba the Greek
In their wonderful book, Playing to Win, author and guides Larry and Hersch Wilson (http://www.amazon.com/Play-Win-Choosing-Growth-Over/dp/188516761X) lay out many life precepts that proved to be "corner-turners" for me. Of particular moment was the following story:
A troubled individual seeking truth and enlightenment climbs the mountain to seek answer from a very wise old woman. When he arrives at her hut, the wizened old woman says, before our friend can even speak, "Ha! You have a problem, my son!" Startled, the man ask how the woman knows he has a problem. The woman replies, "Because you have eighty-three problems." "How do you know that?" the man asks. A she sips her tea through a sugar cube, the old woman replies, "The Universe is very fair; everyone always has eighty-three problems." The man ponders this for a moment and then asks, "What am I to do with these problems?" "Solve them!" the woman snaps. "What will happen then?" "Then you will receive more problems, because everyone will always have eighty-three problems." Then she adds, "There is only one other problem, and that is the eighty-fourth." "What's that?" the man asks in exasperation. The old woman finishes triumphantly, "The eighty-fourth problem is believing that you shouldn't have eighty-three problems."
Texas was hard for me, with at least eighty-three problems on my plate at any given time. In my enthusiasm and naiveté, I thought that I would head to Austin and apply my tool kit of professional experience and be welcomed for what I had to contribute to developing the creative community's infrastructure there. I learned about small town life and how one from New York City is regarded there instead. "That old dog wouldn't hunt" as they say there, one of many treasured Texas turns of phrase that I discovered are an imbedded part of its charm and humor.
The drive, with my two dogs, from Austin to Malibu took two long days. There are those who have made this trek many times. I hope only to have to do it once in my lifetime. It's a long, hot trip with tumbleweeds and long expanses of flat, arid land with few picturesque or bucolic vistas, save the hills that you see in west Texas about mid-way. The first thing that I did on my arrival in town was to attend an industry memorial service in Hollywood for my MPAA mentor, Jack Valenti. I went with my dear friend and MPAA colleague of many years, Bethlyn Hand. After the reception, I headed for the coast and my new ocean-side perch.
After I had settled myself in, I wrote the following:
My heart lies down in the bed of the Pacific,
On my horse-farm-with-flowers-for-neighbors.
My head lies on a soft blue and white fuzzy foamed pillow.
At day's end, the sun is swallowed into the deep of the ocean,
Sent on its journey to the depths by the soft yellow, then red, then receding light of the
dusk that disappears, so the stars can poke their way through the dark velvet sky in the
blanket of the heavens.
Each day, I plant my feet in the Pacific,
Watching my dogs, plunge into the brine,
And then skirt the water that rises up the shore and recedes,
In the constant rhythm of the waves.
My heart heals from the wounds that I carried from far away to its coast.
It soothes my soul and attaches it to the earth with soft grappling irons of feathers.
The arid-brushed mountains to my back and the sea by my side,
I know that, after my Ulysses journey across this land,
I have found home.
© 2007, 2011 by William Nix. All Rights Reserved.