We define life by moments.
The moment when we were born or the moment when we learned to ride a bike. The moment when we broke our arm and when we had our first kiss. The moment when our mother was diagnosed with cancer. The moment when we gave up. The moment when we didn’t. The moment when…
We are the stop-motion compilation of events. We choose the selections, curating ourselves into scrapbooks based on the hand Life has dealt and the stories we want to tell — and the stories we don’t.
The world assesses us by the headlines of the moments we share, assessing our essence based on circumstantial happenings. Thus, we become arranged into categories and expected to respond as others who have lived similar moments. This isn’t necessarily an insult; it’s a method for humanity to have a basis of connection, a platform from which to personalize interaction.
As a filmmaker, it’s my job to forge meaningful moments. I spend weeks, months, and years developing artificial people in imagined scenarios so that they may live ninety meaningful moments on the silver screen. And sometimes, just like in real life, it doesn’t work. The instances we hope will resonate, change everything, or become a marker in our timelines, fall flat.
Ironically, we were still changed by the build up to that moment, but perhaps not in the way we expected and not in a way that’s packageable for sharing.
As a person, the striving, the sensation of meaninglessness, the going to the dentists and paying of bills — how I utilize those spans of time affect who I am more than the sprinkled “pay offs” scattered throughout life.
When I begin developing a film, although I’m praying for the moment in a dark theater when the audience murmurs after the credits begin to roll, I’m mostly agonizing over the arrangement of words in a script, sweating on set in awful weather, and editing in a dark room for hours at a time.
Real life isn’t glamorous or fulfilling. It’s plodding and frustrating. But it’s how we use those deserts between oases that makes our moments. And in fact, our souls.
We present ourselves like montages, when we’re actually real time documentaries. We fixate on moments that are easy to tell, seconds that were exciting, surprising, or heart-breaking. And we forget the rest. The other 90% of our lives.
Moments are given value by their surrounding emptiness — the space in between them that sets the stage: the hours staring at a blank page, waiting for an idea; the nights awake thinking about her when she hasn’t given a second glance; the hour long commute in monotonous traffic to less-than-desirable job...
Life isn’t defined by moments at all, because life isn’t made of them. It’s comprised of stretches of silence and undefined unknowingness.
No, life is held breaths and unanswered questions.