The Search for Meaning
Welcome to the most generic headline and topic since the beginning of the evolution of…depression. Kidding. Partly.
I’ve been trying to put life into perspective lately and I’ve been struggling with not just my enthusiasm but the day to day routine. Kind of like, what is the point? How many times am I going to brush my teeth in this lifetime? Why does that even have to be a part of it?
I guess we tolerate the day to day BS for a larger goal or because it all lends itself to something bigger and deeper. Or maybe fear propels some of us forward. In my case I need something to mean something. My search for meaning has been greater most recently then at other times in my life. It’s possibly what led me to Judaism. I remember sitting at a cafe and feeling so empty. It was at a time when I was happy in my relationship. I had more resources to pursue my artistic goals and yet something was missing. I felt unsafe in the world and thought maybe if I start studying Judaism I’ll find something that’ll protect me and help me see the light. So I googled classes on Judaism and enrolled.
I love Judaism, I truly do. But my search for meaning is not over. I do feel like a higher power has aided me at various times in my life. The universe has had my back so to speak. I’ve never missed a meal, even when I haven’t had money or been unemployed I’ve always found a way to get by. I’m like a bohemian hippy so I know how to be resourceful and survive. But I’m so tired. I don’t want to survive anymore. What is my purpose in this life?
When I first arrived in LA I was so burnt out from writing. I had been working as a journalist in Chicago for four years and I couldn’t write another word. I needed a break. So I decided to take a few months just to be — without any expectation or pressure to succeed. Just live. Be yourself, remove yourself from all labels and categories. I took singing lessons. I sucked, but I enjoyed it. Then shortly after I received a letter from immigration denying my application. I was pretty much being deported (they don’t actually send you a ticket back home, they just take away all your rights – driver’s license, ability to work etc). I had lived in the US for four years at that time. I had worked for the military in the public affairs office. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t afford an attorney. I tried writing a letter to immigration – no response. So I became spiritual and decided that the universe would direct me to wherever it was I need to be. I didn’t pray vigorously. I just allowed my soul to guide and shortly after I met a still photographer who became my angel. He had also been through immigration hell and said, “Forget about that shit. I’ll help you.” He was from New Zealand and had lived in Australia for ten years where I was raised. We had actually worked for competing newspapers in Australia – he worked as a photojournalist for The Australian, owned by Murdoch, and I had worked as a local newspaper journalist for The Champion, run by Fairfax. I lived with him for two and a half years in Lake Arrowhead. We formed an artistic partnership. We wrote screenplays together. I never would’ve started screenwriting knowing how impossible it is to sell a script, but under the circumstances it was my only option. It was perfectly logical. I had a writing background, he had a film background. I was story based, he was visual. All the signs for collaboration were clear — or were they?
We had no success in selling the first script we wrote and we couldn’t agree on the story past the midpoint for the second. After I successfully appealed my immigration application with his help (almost three years later, cause that’s how long it took), I moved back to LA. It was time to work and make money. I couldn’t live on a mountaintop forever and I couldn’t continue draining someone else’s resources now that I could legally work. I continued to write screenplays because I was already in the habit, but I was focused on income and survival more so.
Meanwhile, after a couple years had passed since Lake Arrowhead, my former writing partner decided to finish writing the second script we couldn’t agree on. He sent it to me to read, but I was working long hours copywriting and dealing with an existential crisis. I hated copywriting and questioned if it was truly my purpose. A few months later (last year) my writing partner, the angel who came out of nowhere and helped me during a time when I had no legal identity, committed suicide. The last conversation we ever had he asked if I had read the script. The last words I remember him saying over the phone were, “You didn’t read it. Did you?”
I felt so shocked and heart shattered by his death. Not traditional guilt but frustration that he had helped me and I hadn’t helped him. I went to therapy for grief counseling and just general coping with life skills (cause my inability to function in life was happening simultaneously) and during that process I was able to complete a rewrite on our second script together based on the original and the final script he had completed. The story still needed work and it wasn’t an easy fix, but I felt I owed it to him and I needed the time in Lake Arrowhead, the artistic partnership, to mean something.
However, I had no agent or representation. I couldn’t even sell my own scripts, how was I supposed to pitch this one? Perhaps, working on that script was purely to free my conscience of guilt. CUT TO: I’m a dog-sitter now. I still write on spec on the side. I’m about to stop soon because it’s bordering insanity. No results. But why? Why was I driven in that direction? If that was the wrong goal for me, why couldn’t the universe plant a different seed in my heart or redirect me to whatever it was I supposed to be doing? Is life just dysfunctional for some people…and that’s it? Do some of us just get it wrong, end up on the wrong road which just leads to one disaster after another?
Currently, I have no career. My job hunts have yielded no results and I don’t even know what kind of job I’m supposed to have anymore. I was actually more of a professional success in my earlier to mid twenties. I’m barely scraping by financially. I’m really hating on the feminist movement for pushing me into the workplace in the first place, particularly since women on average in 99 percent of all professions only earn 77 cents to every dollar men earn. I even envy the Hasidic women that live on my block sometimes. They’re home bound, protected. If being an independent working woman is so great, then why am I failing miserably at it? All my friends are having babies. Even if I wanted to have a baby, I’m pretty sure that’s not something you’re supposed to do without health insurance. The first commandment in Judaism is to be fruitful and multiply. And I’m failing at that too and on the verge of turning 34. Peak fertility age is 23. Awesome! Thank-you life.
I’m lost. I don’t understand life right now. I don’t know why certain things happen the way they do and it hurts me that I can’t find a deeper understanding in it all. I just feel screwed from all angles.
So that’s where I’m at. I still have hope that clarity will happen and that I’ll get a better sense of why I’m here. But if I don’t, then I’ll carry on and hopefully find enough strength to enjoy the bits and pieces in life that bring me joy. I just wish things weren’t so fragmented and unclear.