ONE DEGREE OF KEVIN BACON
March 10, 2005.
Several months ago I read a quote by Oprah Winfrey. She said that she believes the only reason we are here on this planet is to figure out what we love to do and then to do it with all our might. I’ve been thinking about that a lot, wondering if that was true for me. Entire lifetimes are spent trying to determine the meaning of our existence. I’m a Christian so I believe that God created life and that there is more waiting for us on the other side. But even my faith doesn’t tell me in black and white terms why my life matters or how I am supposed to live in a world bent on self-destruction. I’m not a Winfrey disciple but I appreciate her life and work because she is one of the few people we have been able to witness as she has taken her journey towards enlightenment. Most people travel this path alone but she is visible in her struggle and I can learn by watching her. It is undeniable that she has moved from a place of insecurity to a place of wisdom. This is reflected in her work, her charity,her personality and her appearance. She is a work in progress but she has achieved a very real balance in her life. I don’t believe this is simply the result of time and age.
So I’ve been musing over her conviction that life is about what we love. And the other day, while riding a bus home from my internship, I suddenly knew this to be true. Sometimes when I’m trying to figure things out I remember what my philosophy professor taught me. He said to think about whether an action would still be desirable if the entire world were to choose the same action. In other words, does my decision have a positive impact not only on myself but on other people? Nothing special had happened to me the day I understood Oprah’s truth. I was tired from my internship and was going home after working ten hours. I thought about how much I loved film and wanted to be a director and how that desire made working ten hours for free at a production company a pleasure instead of a drag. I feel that, after a year of therapy and many more years of prayer and questioning, I can finally admit my heart’s desire is to make films and that it is the best possible way I could spend my life. I think about how many people don’t know what they want or what they’re good at. I think about the frustration, confusion and anger that arises out of this unknowing. And I think that if every single person on the planet knew what they were here to do, the world would be an amazing place. Each person doing what he or she was created to do. Each person placing her own unique stamp on her environment. Each desire a genuine outpouring of passion, intellect and creativity. I’m not speaking of quests for money,power or fame. I’m talking about the innate whisperings of the soul. The voice that says, “This is who I am and this is what I’m here to do.” If each of us were able to follow our true course in such a manner, can you imagine what would happen? And so I do believe that is why we are here. Why else did the Creator breathe life into man but to share His love and creation with another being? If the Fall had never occurred, what might our planet look like? Imagining this, can we still take delight in the creation and our role within it? What higher and better purpose for existence might there be than to do what is given to you and to do it with all your might? The author Gary Zukav defines this as our “sacred” work- to learn why we are and to act on that knowledge. He says that when we reach the place of listening to and acting upon our soul’s desire, we have achieved enlightenment.
I often debate with my husband whether or not each person is born with a destiny. I believe we are. I believe there is a path for each of us, that every one is called to live a unique life of purpose. I do not believe that only the lucky or few are privy to this. It may be easier for some. I’ve known my entire life what I was supposed to do and others find it later in life. But as my husband says, everything happens at the right time. What may be the right time for others may not be right for me. He usually tells me this when I’m chomping at the bit because I can’t find financing for my next project or when I see someone ten years younger than me making an extraordinary piece of art. I’m also an advocate for free will. It seems to me that though we travel a path the journey itself is not set in stone. I believe we are each entrusted with a tremendous responsibility to discover the purpose for our journey so that we may make the most of it rather than stumbling blindly along. I still can’t come to terms with the length of the journey though. If I know why I am here then what’s the hold up? Why am I not a working director? Why am I not traveling the world? Why do I have to intern under a woman four years younger than me? Here’s where my husband chimes in again to say that I am exactly where I need to be at this point in my journey. I don’t believe it. I want to be farther along. But then the phone rings at the office and it’s Kevin Bacon. During our short exchange I remember how far I’ve come. The last time I answered phones I was in a cold, dark law office talking about insurance. Now I’m basking in the afternoon sun and talking about movies. I haven’t arrived yet but the journey is getting a lot more interesting.