07 Jul 2017 Existential Crisis: Heartland
Checking the production equipment at LAX I casually joked, “I feel like we’re due for an existential crisis.” It wasn’t very funny as jokes go, but it pretty well described a sense of foreboding that was tugging at me. TSA didn’t disappoint in ramping up the nervous, as they do; thank you? Seriously y’all, do you have to be so unhappy all the time?
So into the heartland of America, the people were intelligent and friendly, and I must say I do love me some Chicago and Milwaukee. The points in-between were cozy and to my eye – prospering. But there was a feeling that people weren’t as happy as I’d expected. Sort of preconditioned to being combative and upset.
My first clue? Being greeted as “Commi-fornians” at our first interview (his words) and once we were settled in the living room, camera rolling, we realized he had a concealed 9mm – because “Chicago-stan” (also his words).
An idyllic community, but do you really need a handgun to walk your child to the playground? Kind of think if I was a Chicago gang member this is the last place I’d be headed to do some crimes. – The commute alone, right?
So yeah, I had an attitude adjustment that was required.
I have been struggling with the thought of traveling to parts of the country where guns are allowed in public spaces. I grew up in, and lived most my life in cities and I hate guns, so it’s tough for me to square that with meeting people I’m sure I’d enjoy and find interesting without having a weapon between us.
We had a Canadian cinematographer join us for the work in Toronto, and I was talking this through with him. He pointed out that if I were doing a documentary on guns or gun culture in America I wouldn’t let it stop me from filming… good point. You have to find love for the subjects you’re trying to capture, otherwise it’ll be two-dimensional. I’m still struggling but at least the crisis has past.
BTW, “I love Toronto too!”
So one last observation:
Security checkpoint leaving Toronto, they were efficient, hands-on, super friendly given it was 6:00am, a woman had bottles in her carry-on that were too big to cross into America, so they told her some of her toiletries were going to be removed. She became very upset, so they apologized, walked her to a place where she could sit down, calmly explained why they were doing this, and brought her some complimentary water bottles for her trip.
I’ve started doing meditation using the Headspace app, and on the plane I was exploring their Happiness practice. In it Andy, the host, provided me with some insight, “If you extend graciousness and a happy disposition to others, then they will reflect that back to you, thereby making you happier as well.”
Also, fried pie!
Thanks to the crews in Chicago, Milwaukee, Toronto, Charlotte, Dallas, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and Denver. And to all that participated in the documentary, thank you. You’ve taught me valuable things about you and me both.