(Python Diary) The Art of Letting Go and the Art of Holding On

At this point of my read-thru of Michael Palin’s Diary, after many struggles and turndowns from almost every major American movie distributor, "Time Bandits" has been released to the English cinemas. The money made is only moderate, and critical reception (like my own opinion of the movie) is mixed. It seems the movie will sink away into obscurity., and Palin goes to a viewing and thinks perhaps they have created a turkey of a movie that doesn’t fit in anywhere, and he is sad for Gilliam, the director, and feels a little guilty since he was the primary writer.

But at last a distribution deal comes through. The movie opens in the States and takes in 3 million the first weekend. It becomes number one, overwhelming several major, legendary pictures, like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Mel Brook’s History of the World, Part 1". Unexpected, blazing success, right out of nowhere.

Simultaneously, Palin is revising his script for "The Missionary" (NOTE TO READERS: This is NOT "The Mission", staring Robert DeNiro — though I would love to see Palin do a send up of THAT movie!), and getting mixed responses from the Director and Producer on it. His confidence in the film comes and goes quite a bit, but he presses on.

Essentially, he is holding on for dear life as the minecars of life go crashing down the tracks, barely in control, but he is also having to let go, too. He’s letting go of the final cuts for "Time Bandits" and the scripts for "The Missionary", and he knows they’re not perfect, but he has to let them into the world, and this, my friends, reflects strongly on me, because I am infamous for not letting a story go until it is perfect, and I need to learn how to.

But the letting-go and holding-on doesn’t end there, it also applies to his family life. Tom and William, his children, are getting older, just entering their teens, and they are moving more and more into their own private worlds, but his youngest child, his daughter, is still 7. He goes to the park with her and realizes that he hasn’t been there for months because the other children are grown, and he recriminates himself for forgetting that she is still small and still needs him, needs time like this. So he has to let the boys go, but still find a way to hold onto time with her.

My daughter is three, and I wonder if I, too, forget she is small. I will make an effort to go to the park with her more, and I do play games with her every night, but I’m sure it’s not enough, that she would be happy to play with me for hours, and that I should enjoy it while it lasts, before she’s tired of me. But life is so hard to balance, and I am so short of sleep already.

I don’t think there is a good answer, but I don’t want to glance up one day and realize I haven’t been to the park with her for a whole year, when she so much wants to go. I think I would feel like the worst kind of failure if that happened. I, like Palin, need to learn how to hang onto these moments while they last.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.