Additional excerpts from my journal from last week, our last week in France. More seems to have happened in 2018 so far than in entire previous years…it is odd and exciting. I just signed a lease on a new apartment. Back to the south side. Content to stay in Edmonton for now. There are stories here. And they are ours to tell.
But so France:
Sunday, February 4th
On the train to Clermont-Ferrand. Trains are quiet and just as romantic as you expect. Lizzie sits across from me in her new wool coat, her head resting against the window, her eyes closed restfully as the soggy French countryside drips by. Cozy on the train, the dreary grey of the French winter looks quite beautiful; the fields are still vast and green, the old houses (some no doubt older than all of Canadian civilization) cast their spells on us.
Lizzie and I have had world-changing conversations over the last few days (as always happens when we travel–everything simmering under the surface of the quotidian has a habit of coming out when you change your surroundings). What an amazing person to be able to get to know. Pride seems an inadequate word. It is a start.
Friday, February 9th
It’s been a very emotional week. First: feeling overwhelmed, then anxious that I wasn’t doing enough, then nervous about the screening, then very proud of my film–the acting specifically, which after seeing nearly 50 other short films this week I feel confident describing as “world-class”–then incredibly inspired by the other work on display at the festival, then anxious again about how little French I can speak and how every single meal is consequently an adventure, then elated to meet some really talented and beautiful people from Quebec, then sad that now most of them have left, then anxious again about how everything is so expensive in Europe with the Canadian dollar being what it is. Lizzie and I had a stupid fight about money last night. This morning we joked: “Money! Destroying marriages since its inception.”
I think Peak Oil belongs here, but I know I have a lot of work to do if I want to make something that will stand out at a festival like this. I think I know how to do that now, though. The next step for me if to craft something that is truly stunning from a visual storytelling perspective that doesn’t lose the vulnerability I’ve been able to draw from actors since day one. It’s funny: in some ways I was closer to the romantic/impressionistic style of movies I want to make now when I was in film school; I just had no idea who I was or wanted I wanted to make films about. I am excited to get home and get back to work. This festival came at the perfect time.
Sunday, February 11th
We are flying home. It is an odd place, where the desire for a sense of normalcy clashes with an implicit understanding that you are returning to a part of the world that has far less crackling, sizzling energy than where we’ve been. Always there is a hope that you bring some of the lightning of other places home with you, that the essence of what you admire about another place somehow might have woven itself into your clothing, and when you get home you can dress yourself with it. Like the cliché about the teacher who learns more from her pupils, the true value of traveling is often not what you see or do while you’re away, but how it informs what you see and do when you get back.
We picked up a copy of Vincent Van Gogh’s letters from the book store at the Museé d’Orsay. This was written by Vincent in a letter to his brother Theo in 1878, before he had given himself over completely to the idea of becoming an artist. At this point, he was still convinced the he would find his place in the church, like his father before hime. But I think his words betray an insight into the nature of people and a belief in a truly spiritual vocation that organized religion could never hope to satisfy or employ correctly (as Van Gogh clearly must have decided himself):
“It is good to love as many things as one can, for therein lies true strength, and those who love much do much and accomplish much, and whatever is done with love is done well. If one is affected by some book or other…then it is because that book was written from the heart in simplicity and meekness of spirit. Better to say but a few words, but filled with meaning, than to speak many that are but idle sounds and as easy to utter as they are useless.
Love is the best and the noblest thing int he human heart, especially when it is tested by life as gold is tested by fire. Happy is he who has loved much, and is sure of himself, and although he may have wavered and doubted, he has kept that divine spark alive and returned to what was in the beginning and ever shall be.”
Until next time.
Dylan – Edmonton, AB