Today is the second time I teach for six hours plus the four and half hour commute… My dinner was a banana, but I wasn’t at all hungry when I held the bully pulpit. I waited for half an hour in the cold rain for the shuttle bus but I was all warm and fuzzy.
I recognized that feeling. I’m in love. Just like that, I fell into a bliss during and after I taught. Weirdly. Unexpectedly. Surprisingly. Of course, I’m bone tired. Of course, I want to get some time to get my own writing down so I don’t break the chain, according to Jerry Seinfeld.
Given how I paid for my out-of-state tuition and times seven for the currency ratio to the Chinese yuan, I’m practically giving away my UCLA film experience almost for free.
And yet, when my students have a click, an Aha Moment, a laugh, a sniff, those moments make my day. Knowing that I share my knowledge and experience without an agenda, without holding things back, makes me feel better about myself. Teaching is like an elixir that eases off the hard work and the sacrifice it takes to do the job, right.
If it holds such power, teaching should be valued more right? On paper yes, but it never really is in practice. One either abuses that power or ignores that power. “Students are playing with their cellphone anyway, why the fuck should I care?” As teachers, we repeat it to ourselves. Then, we give permission to ourselves to perform sub par, bit by bit. Before we know it, our students complain about us, behind our backs. “This teacher sucks. She’s a loser. She’s a slob.”
I bumped into this quote by dancer and choreographer Martha Graham the other day:
It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.
No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
It gave me goosebumps, because that has evolved to be my mindset when I create art and stuff in general. It has been tattooed into my soul after I’ve grown sick and tired of giving away the power of my OWN narrative. Why do we want to make ourselves feel inferior from those no-response, silence, and rejections anyway?
In Steven Spielberg’s Bridges of Spies, the lawyer guy (played by Tom Hanks) asked the spy (played by Mark Rylance) in jail, “Aren’t you worried?” The spy asks deadpan, “Would it help?”
So, I go, “What if we don’t give away that power?”
Remember, we CAN. We can shrug it off and move the fuck on just so we don’t stop producing work — if we truly value it more than what others think.