I loved Watty Piper's The Little Engine That Could when I was growing up; I'm pretty sure it changed the course of my life. When others thought I couldn't (or shouldn't) do something, I've always been able to believe that I could, no matter what the odds. Or the consequences.
Posted by Juli Sunday, August 16, 2009
And, oh, the things I've done...
Skip college? Check.
Take a Greyhound to Hollywood at nineteen with nothing but 60 bucks and a dream? Cliche, but true.
Become pregnant and choose to be a single mother at age 24? Wholeheartedly, yes.
Attend the '04 Berlinale (Berlin Film Festival) as an accredited industry professional? Absolutely.
Quit a two pack-a-day, 17 year smoking habit cold turkey? Yep.
Take a job in Iraq away from my daughter for months at a time, without really knowing what that job would be? Roger that.
Mostly, I've done what seemed fun or right or opportune at the time...and I've tried to cultivate this particular brand of fearlessness in my daughter. There have definitely been some hairy moments where I was sure I'd made the wrong decision, but I've also gotten to travel the world, walk a few red carpets, take Black Hawk helicopters on business trips and best of all, feel like the luckiest mom on earth with the most amazing daughter EVER. The universe always seems to even things out.
So what, if I never "made it" as an actress? The two years I spent in Los Angeles trying taught me more than 4 years of college ever could. I can always go back to school.
The Berlin Film Festival didn't launch my screenwriting career, but I got to attend world premiers and see a horde of amazing films with a really great friend. Besides, the cigarette habit I kicked right after Berlin was immediately replaced by a 4-year case of writer's block.
My job in Iraq was a godsend financially and professionally...but while I was gone, my little girl became a young woman. I'm still trying to catch up.
All in all, I'd say that the lesson I took from Mr. Piper's parable so long ago has certainly stood me in good stead. Of course, I read the Little Engine That Could to my daughter, just like my mom read it to me.
When I came accross this old edition of the book, I knew I had to have it for Comfuzzled. But as I looked through the pages at the familiar pictures, I realized my "engine that could" attitude had started losing some of its steam. That hill seems a little too high sometimes and the load just a tad on the heavy side. I used to love not knowing what was around the corner, but now I'm not sure about reaching he next peak. What if I don't like the looks of the valley below?
And then I see my daughter charging headlong into the unknown, going after what she wants from life and never doubting that things will go her way. I remember again what that knowing felt like, and I am inspired.
She might as well be shoveling coal into my engine.