In Spite of Money
I recently had a chat with a wonderful woman about what a success Life In Perpetual Beta had been up to this point for me and how I wanted to use it as an example for other women who were struggling with following their interests and passions. She listened thoughtfully, and said, “You Know Melissa, if it becomes a financial success, that would make it an inspirational story, yours is just a good start towards success”.
At the time, I was hurt, I was incensed, I was furious! Wasn’t the fact that I was following my passion enough? Why does it always have to come down to measuring things in dollars? Making this film on half of a shoe string budget is a point of pride with me, and why did what she said make me so mad, I had a lot worse phrases shoved into my psyche than that? Shouldn’t my foray into filmmaking be inspirational in spite of money? And that’s when I caught it… SPITE.
Definition: Spite n: malicious, usually petty, desires to harm, annoy, frustrate, or humiliate another person; bitter ill will; malice.
Could I hate money, could I wish it ill will, do I really wish to humiliate it, do I hope it curls up and dies? Was making this film the way I am coming from a place of spite and not triumphant creative overcoming of obstacles?
But I love money, I need money, I appreciate money, everybody does right? Now, I do hate it that I need it so much. I hate that in order to be perceived as successful I need to accumulate it. I hate that I don’t know how to accumulate it. I’m afraid that if I do accumulate it I won’t know what to do to keep it. I hate how easily I let it toy with my emotions, my bank account, and how much food eventually fills my children’s bellies, I hate how if I make any misstep around it, I could end up on the streets again (actually I lived in my car for a few weeks, but that was enough, believe me). As I think about it, maybe I don’t just hate money, maybe I’m terrified of it?
No wonder I’ve had so many challenges holding on to the stuff! As fiercely independent as I am, I would sooner eat mothballs than hold onto something that makes me feel so defeated, so needy, so unable to do it myself. I drop it fast, least I let it have any power over me, but I guess, in that act of fearful abandoning of it, I let it have all the power didn’t I?
So maybe she was right, maybe the making of Life In Perpetual Beta is not an inspirational story yet, maybe I have a few more fears and grudges to overcome before I’m there, maybe it’s just a good start.
I think my issue with money is resentment.
n. Indignation or ill will felt as a result of a real or imagined grievance.
I resent the fact that I need it. I resent that I’ve had to keep working at jobs that I hate in order to have enough money to keep a roof over my kids heads and food on the table. I resent that what I truly am passionate about seems to carry no monetary value and I can’t figure out how to make a living doing it. I think I may be scared of money as well – scared that is may cause me to rot in hell. You see, my Mennonite upbringing taught me that it was a sin to want money or to be rich, we could only pray for God to provide for our needs and wanting anything more was WRONG.
Yeah, what about art for the sake of art? I think completing the movie is a success story regardless of whether it is a commercial success or “makes money”. So you go right ahead and use your story to inspire the rest of us, missy!
I’m with Dawn – I think completing the movie in of itself is success. Down the road, when you look back at this amazing part of your journey, you’re not going to think about how much money you made (or didn’t make) from it.
You’re going to smile at the interviews that were secretly your favorites; you’re going to laugh at the times you tripped over the mic cord; you’re going to cry at the interviews that moved you the most.
You’re going to look back at the success that was the experience. Money is just one way to measure success – it isn’t THE way.
Money comes and goes–in big amounts or small amounts, it comes and goes. It is fleeting. But this is a creative triumph and the fact that you did it will not go away.
Money just gives you options you may not have when you don’t have money.