Monday, September 21, 2009

... and back

Got back from my road trip to Sun Valley, and the spiritual film festival there. Had a great time. I left first thing in the a.m. on Saturday (4 a.m.!) and drove eight or so hours to get there. I saw a handful of films and then headed back home (early, as it turns out, but I had a blast for the time that I was there). One film in particular moved me. Called "The Human Experience," it was a documentary-type film - but storytelling as well - about the journey of two brothers, and others, into the lives of people who were homeless, orphaned, or shunned (or all of the above). Great movie. Very touching. There was also another movie that I saw where the actress in it would be perfect for a smart horror film that I've dreamed up (and I mean "dreamed" in the literal sense).

Now, here's my whole story. Part of the reason I went to Sun Valley was to maybe run into Stephen Simon (producer of such movies as "Somewhere in Time" and "What Dreams May Come"). He is co-founder of Spiritual Cinema Circle, which was formed in New Mexico, and he has written a book about spiritual cinema. I met Stephen seven years ago, when he was giving a talk in Oregon (he likely doesn't remember). When I heard on Friday that there was a spiritual film festival going on, I thought, well, Stephen Simon should be there. And those were the next words I heard - that he had spoken to the group on Thursday night. So when I thought that I should travel to this festival, a part of me hoped he would still be there when I arrived on Saturday. Last time, I drove six hours one way to see him. This time, I was driving eight.

He was still there - was speaking as I arrived. I snuck in to the theater and sat down to listen. It was a nice crowd - synergetic to the topic. The room buzzed with people who had things to say in response to Stephen's stories, and commitment to spirituality in film. I had heard one of his stories seven years ago - about how he got Christopher Reeve to star in "Somewhere in Time" (a great story) - and enjoyed the preview of the Circle's "The Gift." I laughed out loud in parts.

And then afterwards, everyone wanted a piece of him (as the expression goes). As did I. I went from the front of that line to the back somehow, which I didn't much mind. Finally we talked, and he offered to give me some of his time via email about my projects - advice, I think - and then I said, hey, why don't I tell you some details about the baseball story - of the 1946 Spokane Indians team, how these men died in a bus crash midway through the season - nine of them died... eight of those who died had served in World War II... I told him how I wrote the story in a field-of-dreams way, where the bus crashes midway through the novel, and now the men's souls are coping with the tragedy of their untimely deaths - how it is about fate, and destiny, and what lies in between.

His face lit up as I spoke. I could see that he could see the story. It was as though he could see it on screen already. Just his look helped to energize me. And he is right. This story is an incredible story, for as sad as it is... And then, for me - there I am, getting ready for My Week Of The Big Push, and it starts before it begins on a Saturday in Sun Valley with Stephen Simon's recognition. A very big deal.

No description of a road trip is complete without a description of the road. I took some photos on my cell phone, on the way. Two of three photos - one of a cabin under majestic mountains, and one of fog rising from the river - well, they didn't turn out. Sorry. They looked good on the phone! But here's one - of clouds hanging in the sky. Does the photo show how they looked in person - like they were just painted there?

The other road adventure was the animals. On the way there, a wild turkey showed up (no, not a bottle of alcohol, but a real wild turkey). I wouldn't have noticed too much about it - though I slowed down to go by - except that turkey decided to stand in the middle of my way. Just stood there. So I stopped completely. "Go turkey," I said, waving it on. So it moved, and joined a second turkey on the safe side of the metal railing. "Giveaway," I thought to myself as I kept driving (the Turkey's symbol, according to Native American tradition). It didn't dawn on me until the ride home - the gift of sharing my baseball novel with Stephen Simon! It was also on the ride home that I saw the fox - representing not me but someone else, I thought (don't know why - maybe because it was on the other side of the road from the turkeys). And I thought, someone has a secret (which I remembered as the fox's symbol). I wondered if the secret was good for me or not. About 50 miles later, I saw a cat at about the same spot in the road as where the fox had been. I smiled. It must be a good secret.

And then I came home, and saw I'd mixed up foxes with lynxes. It is the lynx who holds the secrets. The fox? Is good at camouflage. Except the other night, when my headlights caught a glimpse, and illuminated it.

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