Every February brings a special kind of motivating anxiety into my consciousness. The Academy Awards. My relationship to this mostly trivial, yet oh so very significant event has evolved over the years; from my childhood wonder and fascination with Hollywood lore and tradition, to my more recent perceptions of the event as a flawed, political, wonderfully mysterious litmus test for one of the most important cultural industries in the world.
I love the movies. I love everything about them, and I believe in them. I believe they have the power to sneak into people’s perceptions and change them, to incite questions, to shed light on neglected topics and people, to confront the emotional experience of being human, and to transmit wisdom.
When my life as a filmmaker entered into the phase of suddenly realizing how competitive of an industry it is, and to a certain extent, how much of a game it is, my reaction was predictably cynical and pessimistic. The odds seemed so stacked, it wasn’t even a question of hope – it was a test of will. I became very guarded against fellow filmmakers, judging them and comparing their abilities and potential to my own. I would get angry when I would hear about other young filmmakers getting awards, or receiving recognition. I would be angry with myself for not working harder to be more disciplined and productive. And this would turn into a sorrow and shame at my obsession with others’ fortune, for my focus on the end and not on the journey, my neglect of my own experience and work and story.
In this final week of Meditation Month, the one following the Oscars, the lessons and power of lovingkindness take on a particular relevance. This morning during my sit, I realized—I am grateful for the competition. I am genuinely happy for all of those working and striving for the same expressive end, for those whose work bears the mark of their sincere devotion to and fascination with depicting humanity in all its flawed beauty and detail. Instead of being afraid of the amount of people seeking to make films, I am inspired and excited to think of how many other inquiring minds I will surely meet in my quest. And being grateful instead of threatened has opened my mind to my own potential and brought me back to my original and pure love for filmmaking and storytelling, sans trivial worries and ambitions. And perhaps most of all, I am grateful that Tricycle has given me an opportunity to make films for them, and to explore and change myself during the process.
—Andrew Gladstone, Digital Media Coordinator