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The Oscars are here, the Oscars are here! Being that it’s no longer broadcast live where I live, I had to wait for a compilation show 24 hours later, but that’s ok. I chose not to go online at all for the whole day, just in case I accidentally ran into any news about it. I even avoided going to a supermarket or any other store, because I didn’t want to see any newspapers either.
Although I loved watching the show and the anticipation and the wins and the speeches and Chris Rock’s very well done #OscarsSoWhite opening speech, when it was over, I immediately had this down feeling of ‘I’ll never be that good’. And it gave me a paralyzing feeling too. I always have that, after seeing stuff like that.
The rally race Paris-Dakar, Mount Everest, the cycling race Tour De France, the Oscars. What do they have in common? They are the ultimate of their kind. When you reach those, conquer those, win those, you have gone to the top of the game. Brought out the best in you, gone for the top. Not going for anything less. With the exception of the Tour De France, those others have always been my goals. When I was 16, I didn’t want to waste money and get my moped license, I knew I wanted to go for the real thing, my driver’s license, which you could get from age 18 in my time. And when I got it, I loved it. I loved driving. Still do. And soon, my desire was to become a rally driver. And not to participate in some local race. No, my goal, my only goal was the ultimate rally race Paris-Dakar. Straight to the top, skip all the other small stuff. From 0 to 100 in one go. I even looked into training to become a professional rally driver, there was one school in Sweden. After a while, other ideas came to my mind and especially lack of money put that idea to the side. A few years later, after being in the mountains once, I was so impressed by them and hooked to that thrill of wanting to get to the top, I wanted to climb mountains. No, correction, I wanted to climb Mount Everest or K2. I watched many programs on it, documentaries on them and soon found out K2 wasn’t a good idea, with a death rate of 50%. For years and years, I kept that dream of one time climbing the highest mountain in the world in my mind. Going for the ultimate. Again, other things interrupted this idea, money included, as I discovered that one would have to pay big dough to get a license to climb it. I haven’t become a climber. Yet. And now, many years later, I don’t want to climb it anymore, it’s not the money that puts me off, but rather the tourism now and having to stand in line for an hour or longer just below the summit like you’re waiting to get into the cinema at a big premiere. What’s that about. And it’s the waste also, perhaps the biggest reason. They are now sending up expeditions to clean up the mountain, with so many oxygen bottles left behind left and right and what not. That’s just ridiculous. But I still would like to become a climber. And go for Mont Blanc or something. Forget Kilimanjaro. That’s for babies. I want a challenge, I guess. Something that will push me to my limits.
Since I’ve been hooked on the idea of telling stories visually through film for about 16 years or so, I have had only 1 thing on my mind: the Oscars, to be there, to win one. And it’s not that I want to win to win it. But I want to be there, stand on that podium, because what I want to do, I want to do as the best of the best. And not because I am competitive and want to be on the top just to be on the top, beating everyone else, but because what I want to do is produce really good stuff. Oscar worthy stuff. Nothing less. That people will be touched by it, inspired by it and bring out the best in me, producing the best possible stuff. All of a sudden now, I understand Walter White in Breaking Bad. He wanted to be the best, because he knew he had it in him. No compromises. Because he would be compromising himself, he would lie to himself. And that’s how I feel if I don’t aim to be the best of the best.
But it’s paralyzing at the same time. A coach once asked me why I feel I need to play with the big boys, be on their level right away, why I put such high expectations on myself. I do need to get to the bottom of this, I know. Because when I feel it doesn’t immediately work, I tend to drop it all right away. I get intimidated and in comparison mode very quickly. And think ‘I can never do that’. And stop. This is an ongoing thing. This is why, for a few years now, I’ve started to figure out the truth behind these big successes of people. What is the story of it? In my DIY film school I focus on this as well. It might sound strange, but I also look into the personal stories and backgrounds of influential directors, not just at their work and influence, to figure out how they got to where they got. And then I do compare in a good way. I realize then that their story is not my story. Lots of big filmmakers did do some kind of art school or film school or had parents in the arts or journalism etc. And then I sort of sooth myself and say: ‘you see, this is their story, their journey and you cannot compare it with yours’. And the more I do that, find out the story of people and their journey, how they got to where they are, the more relaxed and freed I get from that comparison bug. I tell it to shut up and throw their stories in its face.
My journey is my journey. And I have to keep repeating that to myself. Society is working against this way of thinking however and tries to compare everything and everyone. And it’s hurting people, paralyzing people, everyone really. Causing unnecessary insecurities. Rewarding winners, making others feel like losers, while they’re not really.
I wrote a whole article on the Oscars in 2009. About that it can work very counterproductive and how it shifts our thinking about things, simply because one thing is rewarded and now seems to have given more value and something else, which wasn’t rewarded, seems to be less now. Of less value. Heath Ledger, before his untimely death and awarded a posthumous Oscar for his supporting role in The Dark Knight (2008) stated it well in an interview:
‘…it’s a false sense of success. The people who don’t get nominated, suddenly feel like their performance, what they put in through the year, feels like a failure. And that’s false. It’s fabricated, it’s designed by an industry and they’re opinions too, they’re not facts…’.
I make the following conclusion in the article, which I guess I should keep on repeating to myself as well:
I think if you really love what you do and do it for the right reasons, it will show. And if you happen to get an award for it, that’s great. And if you don’t, it shouldn’t influence your love for it, if that was the whole reason you did it in the first place.
I know that talking about this, writing about this, helps me to wrap my mind around it, to process it, to face it head on, to tackle it. Because I talk about it and don’t leave it growing in the dark. Because the sooner I expose something, bring it to the light, the sooner I can find the truth – and lies – in its allegations. I am, after all, a researcher at heart. A natural explorer. Always have, from a very young age. Always wanting to figure out stuff. How things work or when they don’t work, why not.
Ok, so I am not letting the performances of the big boys intimidate me. Why should I, if I haven’t given it all I’ve got yet. But I will still have to aim lower first. Not demand less of myself, but try something simpler first, get good, grow. I never wanted to do the Tour De France, but the image I thought of was of a little boy, about 3 years old on his tricycle standing at the start of a mountain stage of the Tour De France. And one of the cyclists is saying to the little boy: ‘good goal, little boy, but you’re not ready yet for this, first go home, become better and you’ll come back here’. And that’s what I should just do and stop staring at that mountain and try to climb it when I’m not ready yet.
I know we’ll come back to this topic in this journey. And I will keep on exploring it and discover and expose more truths about it. I have been doing that for a few years now and know a lot more about it than at the start. So, you see, it works. Keep on keeping on.