I suck at writing. 
One of my classmates, when I was in grad school, is now a renowned author.  
“It’s bland,”  she said during a creative writing course.  
I took that to heart, and I kept writing.  Just like a traumatic love story that haunts my masochistic heart.
What you are reading, however, are pieces of my soul, that passed through the lens.
I don’t claim to be an expert or some hippie guru spouting some digital incantations, but they are merely musings of a filmmaker who is also weaving his own narratives.  
The writing may suck, but please give it a chance.
Use them as you may; 
be it for meditation, 
intellectual jousting, 
or as a reminder of hope in times of existential despair. 
These are thoughts and images that intersect with a few of my favorite things:  films, photography, meaning, spirituality, mental wellness, and the constant ardor for life.  
They are outcomes of my peripatetic interactions with people across the globe and the wisdom that I borrowed from them, stored in my hard drives that took years in the making.  They are my sorrows and joys packed in the smallest picture elements that I hope to synthesize into wisdom, an added sweetness to your morning coffee or tea.
Unlike social media, this is not a platform to post public comments in response to these reflections.  
Though I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please connect with me through the Reach Out page.
your friend and brother,  

A short art film edited during a flight across the Atlantic.
This is an outcome of immersion into existentialism.

A letter

I don't think it's Pavlovian. I think it's about the time and a soundtrack that seems to fit in the reality that we live in, and for some have chosen to live.  

The sounds that we've all given meaning to and how we have adjusted our behaviors in response.  

Though I am curious what happens next.  Is she worried about what's on the table for dinner? Do we have enough to help us sleep well tonight and push through to the next day?

I remember the sounds of the bells when I was growing up in that small town.  I was an altar boy;  I have even rung the bell before mass.

But now, the sounds mean less to me, even though I understand the significance of each decibel.  

Once in a while, the sound becomes a reminder to never forget where you came from.

And a reminder to never get sucked in and behave automatically.  It is a choice, the sound is just a sound.

The morning light came in as she poured me a cup of Kenyan coffee. She was proud of it; she knew my taste buds could appreciate its robust flavor.
I told her, “You know how I like my coffee, free and hot.”
She laughed.
Ana had been in remission for almost five years, with the same disease my mother had. I've been a friend longer than that.
She took out an old photo, showed me how the years have changed me. Changed us.
“You can't wait for something to be happy.
A person who knows herself can live with her imperfections.
Some musings for breakfast. A thousand times better than what you hear on pulpits.
circa 2004
circa 2004
ἀνάστασις  || anástasis

Thoughts on Paper: 5684

Rebirth.  Recovery.  The irradiation of human tissue.
The Resurrection, a big event for many.  It’s the cornerstone of faith and a daily struggle to find. 
It’s the final scene of The Shawshank Redemption when Andy Dufrense steps out of the five football fields of shit and that proverbial crane shot in the rain.
As I was filming in Enchanted Rock, in Llano, Texas,  what I had in mind was this notion of coming back to life, especially after being confined for more than a year during this pandemic, we could definitely use some “resurrecting”.
I thought of Mary Magdalene and the women who found the empty tomb, waiting and searching.
And I thought of the emptiness that reverberates sometimes in our lives, and I wonder what the heck are we doing about it?
If I can just find simple moments of anástasis through the lens, in every simple interaction, with  other human beings, with nature, within ourselves, they all build-up to this resurrection.

Ελπίζω Hope
Thoughts on Paper: 2314

A hunger for hope seeps through. So after a cup of coffee, I looked through some notes from the past and some images of light caught in New Mexico.
I was worried as if things will fall apart, considering the times. My films and work are not getting the traction I was hoping for, but I make films, not for film festivals. I make them because they give me life as if breathing. But passion does not pay the bills.
Rereading Václav Havel’s Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Hvížďala, something struck. He writes:

“Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more unpromising the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper that hope is. Hope is not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. In short, I think that the deepest and most important form of hope, the only one that can keep us above water and urge us to good works, and the only true source of the breathtaking dimension of the human spirit and its efforts, is something we get, as it were, from ‘elsewhere.’ It is also this hope, above all, that gives us the strength to live and continually to try new things, even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do, here and now.”
 pp. 181-182

We truck on, no matter what.
Some silence.  
Thoughts on paper.  4342 

“I can’t work on films where you have to please everyone.
I want to work on films that people look to me for. And I hope that my film will be received as a healing medicine.
- Andrei Tarkovsky

A student asked, "If you were given all the resources in the world, as they would on a Marvel movie, what would you change in your filmography?"

Same content but a much more sophisticated execution.  Experiencing cinema is a choice, and making it is more intentional in every pixel.  

I believe we're bombarded with the viral tiktoks and reels on our social media.  It seems like everyone is so drawn to them, and I get even hooked into the algorithm at 4 in the morning.  All this conditions us as media makers to make a hit or to make everything viral.  

We need more likes, more money, more this and more that.   

One thing I love doing on Instagram is making it a digital mandala;  I make use of its platform to post images that are parts of my moments.  The fragments of my life in pixels.  And like the Tantric culture of Tibetan Buddhism, the pixels are like the sand that resembles the genesis of the structure of the universe.  For weeks the monks would complete the colorful sand mandala with precision, similar to the time involved in producing, photographing, curating, writing, reflecting, and sharing the media I create.

But in the end, like the sand mandala, it is deconstructed.  Deleted online for everything is impermanent.  The sand poured into water, a blank slate on your page.

It is almost purgative, unburdening oneself from the likes, recognition, and fame that a post can give.  As if any of my posts have gone viral, which I don't necessarily care.  But how can pixels or film grains heal?  'Am I pissing in the wind?', quoting a former student.

That's the beauty of it I think.  It's working inwards, as the monks do.  

A glimpse of the desert, an ocean full of sand.

What is left of the past?

The Meaning of Life

From an old project, in collaboration with Crystal, this was a draft to a previsualized animation scene for a short pseudo-documentary dark comedy about the meaning of life and the weird ideas that comes with it.

I often wonder how some of these weird coincidences happen.  In the greater scheme of things, there must some meaning after all.  But, we'll see.  Thanks, Ben, for your amazing nonchalant German voice.
152.  I have been in a creative rut these first few days of 2022.  Perhaps this is what Adam Grant calls as languishing.  So here I am, revisiting some images from my memories, hoping to find some solace and inspiration.  
A colleague and great friend passed on to the other side of the rainbow this year.  His literature courses were some of the most amazing classes his former students have enjoyed in their academic experience.  At the end of the semester, spaghetti dinners were involved in the dissection and exploration of letters.
For the exhilarating Irish Whiskey conversations,

the empowering passion as a teacher,

your contagious love for literature, art, and cinema,

and your undying friendship and loyalty,

Till our next drink.
See you later, John.

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