Have you ever had one of those unexpected moments of personal discovery while communicating with someone else that was unlike any other, where, due to the conditions or circumstances, time literally stood still, and you had to pinch yourself to make sure that it wasn’t all a dream?
After the connection happened, did you keep it to yourself, or did you feel compelled to share every detail of the experience with others, who you’d hoped would rejoice in your self-actualization?
One of the great spiritual communicators of our time, the American Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön refers to revelatory instances like these as “the magic of recognition; the miracle of compassionate acknowledgment.” They are unique to each and every one of us, with no two alike. What one person considers “life-altering” may seem rather ordinary and pedestrian to another.
For several years now, I’ve been tossing around different approaches to “capturing” these rare moments, but it wasn’t until a few months ago, when an executive producer that I’ve collaborated with in the past asked if I had anything in the works that I seized the opportunity to discuss some of the broader outlines I’d already developed on the topic; laying preliminary groundwork for a short film, or possibly a future web-based TV series.
As has been the case with a current web-TV series that I’ve been writing for “Front Seat Chronicles,” having a personal connection to a particular subject matter, or at least extracting the more poignant elements of real-life experiences from others who’ve shared them with me, appears to be the most effective approach when I’m developing these types of reality-based projects.
The reason that I chose to pitch this particular concept over any others that I’d been kicking around had everything to do with “where I am now,” along my ever-evolving life-path, and as a freelance writer. Much of what I write, no matter what format it takes, serves two primary, often interrelated functions: to highlight the importance of living in the present and to assure readers and viewers that they’re never alone in their struggles.
Not a day passes in which I’m not reminded of the critical role I play in attempting to ease the stress and pain being felt by others throughout the various circles I traverse. As a preschool educator empowering low-income and special needs children, as a community volunteer helping feed those families living on the edge of poverty, and yes, even as a writer; the vital impact one person’s words and sentiments can have on another person truly has exponential implications, when applied effectively and to its fullest extent.
When it came to choosing which storylines would best serve as “catalysts” for these game-changing, life-affirming discussions, many of them clearly fell into the “heavy subject” category, due to their often provocative nature.
Topics ranging from immigration, gun violence, and infidelity, to those such as cancer and disabilities, all became viable candidates for production. Because many viewers might personally identify with one or both of the featured characters, and empathize with their predicament, the potential for a connection becomes quite real.
A great example of this was an episode titled “What Now?” that appeared in the first season of “Front Street Chronicles.” In it, two brothers, in their mid-to-late 40s, are pressed to make a critical decision with regards to their father, who has become physically aggressive while suffering from dementia.
He’s been rejected from several facilities, and they now must navigate this tenuous situation. In a remarkably short period of time, we see the obstructions that confront them, and the vital role each brother plays in resolving the issue and moving forward.
What’s also important to recognize in these instances is that we often project what we’d like or want others to do in the same set of circumstances if the roles were reversed. Ram Dass, the iconic spiritualist, put it so eloquently in his autobiographical work on aging titled, “Still Here,” in which he states “Situations in which we become dependent can become transformative experiences for all parties concerned.”
“By allowing ourselves to reveal our need, we allow those around us the opportunity to help, which is a fundamental need we all share,” he adds.
This past winter, while discussing my writing process during a radio interview, the phrase that I used to describe this revelatory instance of truth was “cut and run.” When presented with a pivotal choice, are you inclined to stay, despite being outside of your comfort zone, or are you the type of person that will cut and run, only later to suffer from a crisis of conscience?
The screenwriter and filmmaker in me strives to capture and record that moment of contemplation, right at its apex, where the greatest likelihood of self-discovery is often exposed, and subsequently, where many of us find out who we truly are.