The winter of 2009 was a rough one.
I was moving from Prague to Budapest 3 suitcases at a time. I couldn’t afford to rent a car, so after several trips spread out by bus and train, I finally had everything with me that was going to continue the journey. The rest of my life, 5 years of Prague, I left behind.
Two weeks later, I was fired. I had just moved my entire life, piece by piece, paying my way for busses, trains and apartments to a new city, to a new and difficult country. I knew the risk, that's the price you pay for getting in the ring instead of sitting on the sidelines. But now, I was trapped, surrounded by an unfamiliar language, and with few resources other than my wits.
As I sat there in a cold Hungarian apartment in the middle of the winter, broke, with no heat on, with snow falling outside, I watched as friends who owed me money were flown in and put up in warm apartments, get paid per diems, be invited into the local industry, paid a salary, and still tell me they didn’t have money to pay me back, while knowing the money I loaned them help them secure the same job. It was painful, to say the least. To make matters worse, positions I was perfectly suited for were offered to friends who were flown in and put up in hotels to do them instead. The world was not only indifferent to my efforts, it was laughing at them.
But I had roughed it before and made it to the other side. I got my first big film job while sleeping on floors, eating with food coupons, living out of backpacks so I could see the world, and spend my free time drawing in cafés throughout Eastern Europe. In fact, that’s how I got my first job. The owner of a magazine saw me drawing in a Prague café, liked my work, hired me, and then recommended me onto my first film.
So, back to zero, with nothing else to sustain me, I did what I only knew best. I returned to my art.
I began teaching myself new software and, admiring the work of my friends, I tried to emulate them. When you are cold and broke, you aren’t distracted. You are desperate. And desperation channels energy into whatever you focus on. And since you aren’t distracted, you are focused on what you hold most valuable, you pour yourself into getting better.
I didn’t know it yet, but I was building a road toward self-actualization. The skills I was teaching myself were intended to serve the production industry, but since they weren’t hiring me for that, those skills naturally flowed into my own project instead.
Iron Meets Iron
Over the next period, I designed the city from the screenplay I had written several years before. Every day, in a room with only a small table and sofa, I sat at a laptop with a tiny screen, and worked on getting better.
I have the guidelines I started six years ago, when I was cold, desperate, fighting, and alone in a foreign country, with nothing on my mind but the desire to survive and create.
And looking at all we have accomplished so far, that creation is beginning to meet me halfway. For that, I am grateful.
Thinking back to 2008 and 2009, I did not get the job I was willing to do anything to get. Nor did I keep the job they ended up giving me.
Instead, I ended up sitting in a cold Hungarian apartment, making my movie without even knowing it.
And looking at how the work I did back then is being used now, the once bitter taste I felt in my mouth somehow tastes a little bit sweeter today.
It's the taste of conviction.
The Journey Continues.
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