Posts tagged going big
adventure |adˈvenCHər, əd-| noun
an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity
The first time I set off on a life-changing adventure, it was involuntary.
Involuntary might not be the right word, as I was nine years old and under the authority of my parents and the decisions they made. My dad transferred to a TV station from the cool evergreen forests of Oregon to the wild and humid state of Tennessee. I can remember going through the massive change as a young, impressionable boy. Everything I knew was about to change. I remember my grandfather teasing me, saying “Next time you call me on the phone, you’ll be speaking with a deep southern accent! You’ll say, ‘Heey ther Grand-paw. How ya’ll doin?” The thought of talking like the hicks from The Beverly Hillbillies so petrified me that I vowed I would never speak with a southern accent even if it killed me. Perhaps I could hold my breath and prevent my dialect from this strange, contagious disease called an ‘accent’.
However, despite my fears, Tennessee soon became home. I made lifelong friends and as the years flew by, I finally began maturing into the adult I was to become. After a two-year degree at the local community college, it was time for another adventure. Moving out of the house I called home and waving goodbye to my family, I set out for two and a half years of university in Johnson City, Tennessee, a full three-and-a-half hour drive from home.
I loved that adventure.
University came and went much quicker than I expected. I graduated and had my first successful job interview with a visual effects company in Los Angeles. It was time to put twenty years of life experience into a car with all that I could manage to bring with me, and move out to Los Angeles in pursuit of a dream. A dream to use my talents and skills to create worlds never seen before. To tell stories that inspired the imaginations of others. To take part in something grand.
The ultimate adventure.
Moving to Los Angeles was the biggest, scariest thing I have ever done. To go from a city–heck, an entire state filled with people that I could call my deepest friends and to move out to the concrete jungle with no contacts, no place to live, and no certainty of what would happen in the long term caused such incredible strain that my very foundations were shaken. Everything I believed in was tested under stress. The beams and bars that held me together were ripped and torn and baked in the sun as my faith, my values, my very core was caught up in The Great Test that Los Angles had to give me. There were times when I wished that I was back at home amongst my friends. Times when I experienced such loneliness that even brushing shoulders with a stranger in the street felt like comforting human contact. Times when everything seemed piled up against me. Times when I wished that I had never been born with such a vision. That I had not been born at all.
But I survived.
I made it.
I came out alive.
Los Angeles grew to become home, just as Tennessee had been all those years ago. I made friends, I found purpose, I didn’t just survive… I thrived. My job was pushing me and challenging me. And two months after moving to LA I saw my name in the credits of Thor, the first film I worked on. I’m here. I made it. I thought to myself, getting tears in my eyes as “Joel Gerlach” joined the names of those in the rolling credits. And then, over the next year and a half, my work would be in ten more feature length films. I would see my name scrolling upwards on the silver screen, and it gave me joy.
And then, it soon became not enough. Work became dry and predictable. I realized that I was working for movies that had bad storylines, weak characters, and poorly developed plots. The stories weren’t enough. They weren’t real. And I was wasting precious hours of my life tediously creating and fixing shots for someone else’s vision, someone else’s screenplay, someone else’s attempt to tell a story that I knew wouldn’t amount to much. Avengers was an exception. It caused me to dream big. And in order to dream big, big changes would need to be made.
But yet I continued on. I pushed forward through my apathy and dislike of my job. I loved the company and hated the work. I was loosing my soul in the pursuit of a dream that wasn’t mine. I was being faithful to a path that wasn’t mine to walk any more. I was being called to the woods. I was being called to forge my own path. It was time to set down the shovel I had been digging my grave with, and stand up and out into the sunshine. Out into life.
Then God told me to give away my car. So I did.
Switched entirely to traveling on my electric bike and hitching rides with my patient and supporting girlfriend. My car of four years, my faithful companion, I gave away. The idea came like a ship appearing out of the fog, slowly being revealed as it sailed into the home port of my brain. Without much questioning, I told my dear friend and his wife that I was giving my car to them. They were floored. And then I began to plan accordingly.
It was as easy to follow the Voice to give my car away as it would be to give away a few quarters for someone’s laundry.
It was no big deal.
For it was just a test. A measurement. Could I hear from God?
Two months later, the Voice again. “When you’re ready, I’m ready.” I knew that God was talking about my future, this Glorious Future, these Matters of Destiny that linger so strongly over my heart. In order for me to do big things, it’s going to require big sacrifices. But I had to be sure. My response to him? ”Well, no sense prolonging the inevitable. Let’s do this.”
Was God telling me to leave my job?
In an industry where so many people fluctuate in and out of contracts, I had steady work. In a world where most people resent the people they work for, I was amongst some of the nicest and most talented people I’ve ever met. In an economy where people are struggling, I was guaranteed a paycheck for the foreseeable future. And now that I didn’t have to spend money on gas and insurance… I was set to make a nice profit each month.
But it wasn’t enough. Not for me. Not when there’s Matters of Destiny weighing me down much heavier than the worry of an empty bank account or a nonexistent job.
The weight of my future is much bigger than that. And I’d be a fool to ignore it.
Later on, the same ‘out of the fog’ feeling came over me. “End of June is when everything will change.” Came the Voice. End of June? But that’s so close. Perhaps, though, with the same faith that’s brought me this far, I’ll trust that whatever’s going to happen, I’ll be taken care of.
That’s my future. To rekindle the concept of Story into a dying industry.
And in order to get to that point, I’d have to risk it all. I’d have to leave my security, my comfortability, and go against the advice of those around me. I’d have to do what I’ve done several times before. Leave everything familiar in the pursuit of the unknown, the unpaved path stretching out before me.
I’d have to return to the Adventure.
That brings us to today. The last work day in June. The end of June. Where everything would change. Today I told my company that I’m leaving in three weeks. Friday, July 20th, 2012 it all comes to an end.
And then comes the beginning.
Curious to find out more about Joel’s journey? Check out some of the plot elements leading up to this excellent post, revealed in these blog posts:
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