Last night I plowed through 10 weeks of Michael Palin’s 1980-88 diary, the entire filming of "The Missionary" (which I still have not seen). He had lined up two movies, back to back, "The Missionary" and "The Meaning of Life", and said, just before filming started that he felt like he was entering a tunnel, and that wouldn’t come out the other side until October.
Well, he was right. I’m not even to October yet, and it’s amazing how his life fell away for the entire period of shooting. He was even working close to home, living in his own house, for 5 of those weeks, and still all trace of family life disappeared. It was like he suddenly ha a day job that required overtime at the office every day, and lots of travel.
He comes home one day, and he’s stepped in dog poop somewhere and has tracked it across his house. He goes to clean it up, but there are no supplies, and he has a screaming fit. A melt down, right there in his house.
I’ve been in a similar situation. Have you?
It’s what happens to us all, in a way, when we get sucked too far into the stress of our careers and other endeavors, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere. We get trapped in that tunnel, looking for the light at the end, and, for some of us, there is no coming out of the tunnel, no day we can point to except retirement or death when "filming" ends. Palin knows when the movie will conclude, and it’s still tough on him. For many us, though, this tunnel only has a way out on weekends, our brief glimpse of the sun, and those are just way stations along the journey.
I had one of those yesterday — a sweet little break — a picnic at the park with my family. It was strange to lay on a blanket and be still. I am never still these days. I have too much to do. But I sat there, and the grass was green, and the air smelled good, and my daughter watched with me the other children playing in the park.
If you have a family, or even if you just want what we have come to call "a life", remember to take a pit stop in the middle of racing along on those cold, nighted tracks, because, for us non-superstars, sometimes those are the only times we get to be outside the tunnel.