When bad things happen a lot of us tend to isolate, to feel alone, to imagine there is no one else who can feel our pain. Even if we want to be around people, many don’t want to be around us, imagining as they do, that if they come too close they may catch our contagious disease – our heart sickness.
A very bad thing happened to me just over three years. At first I was in total shock, the loss not completely sinking in… for a long time. During the early months I carried on with my daily activities, which at the time meant running a startup digital entertainment company that was just about to launch. I had employees to think of. And investors. And the dream that I’d been working on for several years, the dream I was lucky enough to share with my son for two years. When my 32 year old son died I was sure that I died too. But years of habit, the 14 hour days I was used to working, took the reins and I moved forward on my journey to build that company.
I remember walking along Portobello Road in those early weeks, not far from my home. I was literally lost in the crowd, and not just on those busy streets packed with visiting tourist. I was a stranger in my own land now too. No one saw me. I was a form without shape shuffling along, barely able to walk. But it wasn’t just on that busy road. The people I worked with politely ignored my tragedy, I’m sure with good intentions. And other than the interactions that were necessary for work related communication, investor communication, or new business meetings, my busy life was filled with enormous silence. The friends I thought I had, the ones I’d go to films or dinners with, all but disappeared. Many of them were parents and the thought of losing a child was just too uncomfortable; it meant bad things could happen to them so it was safer to avoid me, the reminder of this truth.
Not long after I lost my son, I was forced to wind up my business. It was a victim of the banking crisis that started, strangely, in the same week my son died. There were no more crowds to hide in. It was no longer even possible to hide there in that busy life I once had. So I sat on the couch for nearly two years. I was busy there; I filled my days with writing. I finished a book about the first year after my loss on the one-year anniversary. Then I wrote a screenplay. And finally started a documentary. It was the accidental outcome of feeling too impatient to write another screenplay that may or may not ever be made. I wanted to be more active. So I went on the road in search of something, I wasn’t sure what. And I filmed everything. And didn’t stop filming. Now I’m editing this film that spans about 6 months in the life of someone who does everything to come out of the darkness, back out into the world of light.
In order to finish the film that I put every extra penny I’ve had over the last year, I needed to go back into the world to look for help. And now I wish I’d had the energy to leave my couch earlier in my healing process, but I didn’t have the energy. Maybe someone having a hard time and reading this post will find the will to reach out after hearing the results of my recent reaching out.
Just over a week ago I took a huge leap into the big unknown. I’d heard of musicians using crowd-funding, people they knew and complete strangers, to fund projects that had little chance of becoming commercial successes. I need $20,000 to finish editing this film. It is a full length documentary that I hope will be widely distributed because there are many like me who have had bad things happen to them, and like me, they need to see living proof that life is not over when we think it is. In order to reach this ambitious goal I have gone to every single person I’ve known in my life, people I haven’t had any contact with since high school and earlier, people I went to college with. I’ve also contacted people I’ve only ever done business with, people who used to read my provocative blog on the entertainment industry. And I’ve gone out to complete strangers. In the first week of my Kickstarter campaign, a platform that uses the power the crowd to help creative project get funded, I’ve raised more than $3,000. I have 3 weeks left to reach my goal or I cannot collect the money.
What I’ve received so far is much more important than the money to finish my film. People I don’t even know have written to me the kindest, most loving and supportive emails of encouragement and appreciation. I have literally found what I’ve needed so badly these last three lonely years in my interactions with this crowd. Reaching out and sharing my journey has touched other people and they have come back to share their stories and their love. If you have been touched by this post, or the story about my film, “In His Footsteps,” please consider contributing to it. Or you can help in another way by simply letting others know about it. And if you need support in going through something you don’t think you can handle, reach out to me, or other friends or strangers. I think you will be surprised at what you receive.