I’ve worked in media making documentary films for…what feels like a long time now. I graduated on a Sunday, moved to New York Monday, and started working that Tuesday. And I hadn’t stopped…until now. This is the first time in my entire life that I don’t have A Plan. I’ve been trying to sit with that uncertainty and really embrace it, to embrace the fact that I’m walking into the unknown and trying to trust that I will figure it out.
I started working in documentaries because I was interested in how different mediums could alter the dynamics and conversations of power. In my work, I’ve tried to focus on stories that dealt with environmental or social justice issues, more often than not the stories sat at the intersection of both. What I learned through my travels and meeting people from across the US and the world was how important equitable access to clean air, clean water, and healthy food really is; and as Manju and Rishi have said many times, how rethinking those systems can help us to rethink our entire communities.
I loved this aspect of my work, being able to constantly learn new things and being able to learn it from not only traditional experts (academics, policy makers, etc.) but the experts who were living it. There were also things that I didn’t like and over the years they started to snowball. I didn’t like that it felt like I was throwing my stories into a digital blackhole with no inkling of whether or not it was making an impact. I didn’t like that when I wasn’t in the field, my job was to sit glued to a laptop and often I’d spend the day forgetting that I was a physical body. I didn’t like that everything I did ultimately was part of a creative economy that traded in the intangible. I often found myself questioning the ultimate value of what I was doing. It just felt like there should be more.
At the same time, over the last few years, I’ve begun to experience this slow creeping feeling of dread and even a little doom. I started playing this game with my friends where we would talk about the things we wanted to learn or wanted to do before the apocalypse came. And I think this feeling was informed by a lot of things, seeing how global warming was already drastically altering our landscapes and ecosystems, feeling like the polarization of wealth was making it harder and harder to live if you weren’t already wealthy, and understanding that both of those things were going to compound on one another to make it increasingly difficult to ensure the basic rights of all people.
Ultimately, I think this game was a way for me to begin imagining a new kind of future, albeit a dark one. Stepping away from my work has led me in search of how to go beyond imagining to build something more tangible and hopeful. And while my fear and anxiety still make appearances in my daily inner monologues of WHATAMIDOINGWITHMYLIFE, in the moments when I’m at the farm or tending to my newly sprouted greens, all of the noise quiets and it feels very simply true that this is what I’m meant to be doing and that no matter where it leads this path is the right one.