I’m at Sundance again this year. The annual tradition that is as close to a college reunion as I’ve ever had in my life. I could write pages on the effect that the gathering has on my psyche: the calming, medicative jealousy of a life not lived.
The problem is that the movies I’ve chosen this time have brought me a costly type of introspection. Whether fictional or biopic, I’ve found myself resonating with the most depressing characters. So many drunk reclusive writers! It’s like a genre unto itself. Seeing everyone’s mental turmoil makes mine seem much more manageable, maybe even normal. But does everyone have to be so defective? So unable to deal with the world as it is?
In reality, I have very little in common with J.D. Salinger. I’m no Holden Caulfield. Our frustrations with the world come from dramatically different places. But the slow degradation is real, everyone cracks-up in their our own ways. The commonality being that the world, regardless of the age, becomes harder and harder to reconcile. And then there’s the longer-term fear that the wish of being alone, that you said you wanted for so long, will actually come true.
The trick seems to be to not let the world become alien. When you get past the tech, things don’t really change. You change. And so I look on the bright side: I have a pen full of ink, a notebook with clean paper, and I’ve learned what will make me feel “ok”.