It’s sufficient to say I don’t know what I’m doing at this point. I’ve known that you can plan and develop but when it comes to documenting real life, you have no control. This sort of film directs you, you can’t direct it.
I can’t pretend like things have gone smoothly. It’s funny, as I think about how many hiccups there have been in the process it’s occurring to me that I myself have experienced an unusually frequent onset of hiccups. A person doesn’t get hiccups too consistently so when one does, it is noticeable. I doubt that it’s some sort of sign but it has an ironic parallel to the way things have been going. I would tend to call it “insult to injury.” The difficulties are not easy to explain. There are major set-backs but mostly there are lots of minor set backs, bad timing, illness, bad timing, no transport, no story, bad timing. It is just not the same process as it was last year. It’s hard not to let it get to me. I’m in the country for close to a month, the opportunity to get what I need is far less… and continually dwindling.
I think it was a few nights ago when my stomach was aching and I knew how inconvenient it would be to be sick, that I lay in my bed struggling to stay positive and waging war within myself and had my first major realization. It was a simple but profound thought; the lessons I was meant to learn in my last filmmaking endeavor in Zambia, I learned. It went without a hinge and was uplifting all the while. I felt as though I was being carried through from start to end. But I already learned those lessons. Of course it isn’t going like it did, it isn’t supposed to. It wasn’t an uplifting realization at all but it was a wisdom I needed to gain. I’m not saying that the Lord isn’t providing or that he is choosing to make it difficult but if he never changed the test questions we would never learn new material. Sometimes they’re harder.
Today I had another realization, this one offering a measure of consolation and reprieve to my weak constitution. The night I sat in the clinic during labor there was an expectation that the baby was just about to arrive. First it was expected to come quickly then nurses advised it would come in an hour and after two hours passed and an exhausted mother had made very little progress, there was a long period of uncertainty. I felt in myself a doubt begin to arise, first that the baby was ever going to come and as the night drug on there was a strange sense that there wasn’t a baby and this moment of fatigue that sat like a bus on my shoulders would go on forever. It was irrational doubt. There was clearly a baby and there is always an end but there were moments when somehow the wait was long enough that what I knew gave way to what I felt. And what I felt was that because I couldn’t see an end, there surely wasn’t going to be one. I’m sure that there is no moment during those hours when, to a mother, the pains of birth don’t overshadow the certainty of the gift that is coming, especially to a Zambian mother who suffers through the night without medication and with little help.
I have wondered why it would be that promptly on arrival the Lord gave me perfect timing and success and then in the days to follow it has seemed that he has been on his coffee break. Perhaps it was so that in these days that have passed and in days ahead as nothing goes the way it should, that I can go back where I sat and feel the doubt that overcame my faith as I watched in fear the hours tick by.
What I’ve found is that I am deep into the night, facing an unknown end in the pains of labor.
When the baby finally came, not only was there the relief, but there was also a clearer view of doubt. Doubt has an unmistakable way of doing to truth what a house of mirrors does to a man on a simple path. It takes what is real and distorts it, and the longer you have to go before you get out the more it confuses what you know along the way.
I have been at war. But there are small glimmers of progress. As I’ve said to my mother, most of it’s lateral progress. It doesn’t necessarily take me forward. It’s some extraneous things but it does offer the relief of movement. And if I were to take what I learned before and apply it, which is probably the goal, I could assume that somewhere along the road what I see in my limited vision as extraneous may not be so extraneous at all.
Photos from top are: Logan, the boom mic man. Capturing some audio with Joyce and her group who sang “Yaweh” in the film “Nawona”, A group shot after we recorded some songs and spent some time teaching them one of our songs for a collaboration project, and lastly I added this photo because its pretty neat and Logan is becoming quite the photographer. He is learning the way.