Something big to you is BIG (the Santa Cruz Film Festival)
Can you recall a time in your life where you did something small, in comparison to the greatest of human achievements, that thrilled the hell out of you?
Like skiing to the bottom of the bunny hill at the local slope near your house or the day you first stood up on a surfboard and rode a wave for 10 feet before plunging back into the water below. Those moments can provoke unmeasurable excitement and thrill in a person. Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of the on-watching world wouldn't bat an eye to give you the recognition of anything that resembles an achievement. That experience is exactly what this blog post is about, celebrating those moments that are BIG, even if they're only big to you! I feel like as a society we allow for a short window in life to enjoy and spend countless hours doing those things that achieve little social stature or income, but allow a ton in personal gratification. That window, for the most part, falls within the span of youth and closes rapidly as we get older. To get clear on what I mean, let me ask you this. Have you ever had the equivalent experience of hearing someone in their 40's telling you about driving around in their beater van with their cover band and sharing how their gonna make it big someday and not think, "I hope you have a day job, dude." Whether it's that specific example or one in that ballpark, I have been guilty of having that moment where I cringe inside for them, but should I? The fact is, doing those little things in life can bring BIG moments of joy for you that far outweigh the judgmental perspectives of society. I would argue they are essential to our survival on this planet and do a lot to make the world a better place. I was lucky enough to recently have one of those moments myself and I am still stoked about it, so much so, that I have been reliving it over and over in my head for the past two weeks. For me that moment was the recent screening in California at the Santa Cruz Film Festival of my latest passion project, Reaching Reality (more here). Fourteen years ago now at the age of 31, when I arguably should have been 'growing up' and building a career, I abandoned all that and went on an epic adventure with two of closest my friends. Our dream was to sail the Pacific coast from San Francisco down to Cabo San Lucas in search of uncharted surf spots on 7+ islands and beaches along the coast. At that time I was a high school special education teacher and I decided to quit my job, pursue my passion and buy a camera to film it all. Upon return, the footage of over 100-hours of tape was placed in storage and nearly forgotten about for many years to follow.
Shot of our slip in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico after the completion of the trip from San Francisco. (right to left: Dennis Stein, Barry Walton, Dan Wasserman)
Then in the lease creative period of my life, while working at a corporate agency, climbing the ladder of 'career growth', and being the furthest I can imagine being from the reality of that trip, I pulled the tapes out of my basement storage and began to whittle away at telling the story. At first, it was me alone reliving each moment of that voyage as I reviewed tape after tape. Then it grew into the two crew members and myself talking and telling our stories. Until ultimately I had a list of friends and family who had seen clips and watch scenes and shared how much they liked it. Each time that circle grew, I became more confident in the project. Yet, each time that circle grew I risked more people asking, what is a 40-year-old man doing in his basement every weekend trying to make a movie? I kept going, sometimes against my own better senses. The need to make the movie was big inside me and it was starting to drive me to dream of other things I could do with my life's work versus sit at a desk in an office carrying out the commands of corporate leadership. Ultimately that film and passion became a driving force in the quitting of my job over 2 years ago (I admit I wanted more time to develop the story and edit, not just start a media agency). At this point jobless, working in my basement and driving a beater of a car, I was totally the dude at 40 still trying to make it with the band. Humbling as it was I believe I had no choice. I had to follow that path and those moments offer two of the most important things that every human needs. A passion and excitement for what you're doing with your life and growth through those achievements of doing what you love. Today that little home video of a project that I worked on over 14 years and chipped away on weekend-after-weekend screened at the Santa Cruz Film Festival in front of a grand audience and some of my closest friends and family that I have from around the country. That little moment was BIG to me, I will relive it for years to come. For me the lesson is that in doing things that are big to me I created something that may be seen by many, many more people in theaters and homes around the world before it's all said and done. Follow those little moments that are big to you, because those moments are what matters to you and that alone makes them BIG!
Pre-screening photo at the Santa Cruz Film Festival with the two other members from the trip.
(Left to right: Dan Wasserman, Barry Walton, Dennis Stein)
Remember, your potential is Endless!
Barry Walton Endless Media **Footnote: If you attended the festival and have a moment, please do share your reflections on the project. I would welcome critical feedback on the piece.