Friday, June 2, 2006

An Inconvenient Truthism

Tonight I saw the documentary of Al Gore's crusade to alert the world to global climate change, An Inconvenient Truth. And earlier this week, some workmen cut down a large tree in my backyard.

Don't worry, I'm not going to relate these in a predictable way.

Rather, I'm going to praise the movie and relate deep concerns about my own ability to focus on a dedicated career path.

The tree behind my house was big and beautiful, perhaps 50-100 years old. About 12 feet off the ground, it split into two dominant trunks instead of one central trunk, growing straight up. The bifurcation seemed to compromise the typical vertical stability of a tree, and it had developed an ungainly lean towards the house. Thus the owners elected to cut it down.

Similarly, my own dedicated interests pull me in compromising directions. I, like some friends I've discovered, have something of a creative myopia that causes me to put myself into whatever role I am most directly looking at. If I'm watching a great film, I consider my life in terms of filmmaker, scriptwriter, preeminent actor. If I'm walking the halls of the Supreme Court, I think to myself, "Yes, I'll totally be a Supreme Court Justice. I'd better look into the LSAT." And if I read Vasari, I quickly fix myself into the historical context of great artists.

It's fairly ridiculous, perhaps symptomatic of any democracy as de Tocqueville noted, and existentially ADD in a way that alternately could be praised as the fruit of an undying curiosity or derided as the side effect of a debilitating lack of focus.

Watching Gore's presentation makes it very clear that the world is at an environmental and cultural tipping point. Environmentally, wide scale reduction in CO2 omissions is urgently needed, while culturally, there is a demand for serious awareness and reevaluation of what macro lifestyles can be sustained by the earth. The film outlines Gore's career of drawing attention to this issue, and how the 2000 mis-election diverted his full focus back to it.

Watching the film has had a similar effect on me. Washington is, perhaps, the most political city in the world, and one can't avoid osmosizing a degree of it. Seeing Gore present his case should strike a chord with any viewer to seek considerable change in the nation's practices and policies (to say nothing of leadership).

So thoughts of how I can involve politics into my career are now enriching/clouding my pursuit. Perhaps this is good, perhaps I should banish the thoughts and focus on art/music/film/writing. But even a successful career in these pales without a dedicated component of service of some kind. Ongoing, lasting service, to mirror a substantial, lasting contribution to the arts.

That's all I want.

So coming right up, the next installment of the Analog Jetpack comic.

That's all I'm saying.

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