The Oscars are coming up – that battle royale of Hollywood’s elite, clothed in wit and expensive garments. One of the most painful moments of the glittering affair is the camera close-up on the losers. As the music swells, the lens zooms in to capture the muscle twitches and painful smiles of those who have given their all for a film. “And the winner is….someone else.” Veterans and fresh-faced newcomers now must execute their finest performances, nods of gracious acquiescence and the humble applause of good sportsmanship, all the while feeling inside that bitter tang of loss that oft accompanies great vulnerability of putting your heart and soul into your craft.
I know how they feel – putting tremendous emotional effort and time into something that, at the last possible moment, isn’t affirmed.
Let me just say that I feel something similar today. I want to leave the party altogether, push past the folks who murmur, “Being nominated in itself is an honour,” and “Just to be in the same category as all those talented people is an award in itself!”
Bah, humbug. The only thing I want to do right now is take off my expensive tuxedo and go into seclusion. I can see it now: as the rumours swirl about my abdication from the writing world in the wake of yet another defeat in the professional realm, I become an elusive figure whose childish blog posts and angsty journal scratchings become museum pieces. Perhaps I should become an aficionado of tiny dogs, or refuse to wear anything but the colour black for the rest of my life. Or, I could take up trash-talk and profanity, jumping onstage to interrupt country singers when they win things I didn’t want them to win.
At least I seem to have retained my sense of humour. At the very least, the melodrama of the Oscars and the crushing news I heard today (and yes, I mean crushing in exactly the way a black-and-white film goddess would say it as she faints onto a strategically placed couch) is informing my imagination and spurring me, after a month’s absence from this blog, to write something again.
If you came here looking for advice on how to deal with disappointment, I can’t help you. I’ve just spent the afternoon in my pajamas, a tissue box close at hand, alternately crying and wandering the internet aimlessly, looking for non-existent dream jobs and too-expensive certification programs. Ironically, there are thousands of disappointing articles out there with facile advice and “think yourself into happiness” tips to overcome said disappointment.
Nifty, though, that you can learn to poach an egg, and then find a page on the same site detailing ways on how to deal with the inevitable emotional pain of said egg’s less than perfect outcome.
Whether it’s a rubbery egg (sorry, husband!) or an unrequited crush, I’ve had my share of past failings. In the past three years, I’ve actually experienced real fire, flood and financial disaster, not to mention a myriad of small crushing bruises to the heart, as well as the major, messy disappointment that a failed long-term friendship offers up in a bitter, lingering way.
But I have a deepening sense that with this latest blow, it’s not simply about ‘getting through.’ I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, preparing for my close-up, as that gilded envelope is opened once again, and the winner is…someone else. And I’m tired of making faces, making excuses, and making nice. I’m wrecked, frankly. I will probably get up in the morning with puffy eyes and a heavy heart as I make my way to the job I do that often kicks the creative crap out of me.
However, I do have one weapon in my arsenal that has yet to disappoint me: my love of writing. I know it’s shocking and considered naive to say it just like that. I know all the raised eyebrows and cynical catch-phrases. I’ve been trained in the art of criticism and deflection, and can walk the halls of haughty culture with the best of them. I’m familiar with places where saying you simply love something because you do will get you an F.
But I do love writing. Simple as that. In fact, my need to write might be the only thing that revives me this time around. In the words of the great Samuel Johnson:
“Disappointment, when it involves neither shame nor loss, is as good as success; for it supplies as many images to the mind, and as many topics to the tongue.”
And, I quietly hope, many more words on the page.