I love you, garbage man

I am passionate about filmmaking. Yet in these lean times, it is frightening to pursue my dream of becoming a filmmaker when I’m faced with the need to earn a steady paycheck to support myself. This is not a dilemma new to those who pursue their passions, but it is my dilemma now. Please advise!

Savor your fear. It is teaching you to stop and look both ways when you’re facing a crossroad. You’re not simply considering a new lifestyle choice, you’re facing a moral one. Choosing voluntary simplicity in a materialistic culture is swimming against the society’s insistence on the right way to live. When you are a successful filmmaker, by society’s standards, details of how you lived on beans and tortillas while working toward your goal will elicit incredulous gasps. Making the choices necessary to pursue art is often seen as too much of a sacrifice. Of course, nonartists don’t know that the original and true meaning of sacrifice is “to make holy” or “to do the holy.” By cleansing yourself of what is not needed (despite advertisements or friends who say you deserve to have that treat, trinket or vacation), your creative vision grows clearer. Eventually, you become a pure vessel through which the sacred can be channeled into art.

So delight in the certainty that filmmaking is your passion. Pursue it with devotion. But never forget that you are an adult. Be financially responsible for yourself and always contribute toward easing the suffering of someone in a developing country. Accept a job that will fund the bare necessities of your life plus a small donation for the impoverished outside of the United States. Then pour everything else into your filmmaking. If things go awry, remind yourself that it is always frightening to pursue dreams. You are simply human. The dream is Goliath, a giant whose very presence in your life evokes trembling, apprehension and awe. Transform your fear by remembering that, at its core, it is just energy, fuel for your enthusiasm. When your mind wanders back to whether you should risk everything to be a filmmaker or get a job and give up your art, repeat this Sufi proverb: “Trust God, but tie up your camel.” If you follow its wisdom, your future decisions will be inspired as well as responsible.

The man that I thought was my true love broke up with me two years ago. I still dream about him being in my life. How can I get through Valentine’s Day without feeling left out and lonely?

Stop placing limits on love. You imagine the day to be for romance. I imagine the day to be for lovers. Write notes of appreciation to the people who make your life easier, like the postal carrier, dry cleaner or pet sitter. Spend an hour in a convalescent home chatting with someone bereft of visitors. Bake cookies for county sanitation workers. Do anything to reorient yourself to a deeper reality: It’s not about the love you receive; it’s about the love you give.

Valentine’s Day is also a sweet time to mend broken relationships (but not with your ex-boyfriend!). Write a letter that accurately states your contribution to the problem without justifying your past words or actions. Say, “I’m sorry.” But don’t send any “pink icing” letters. That’s when a person is upset about an interaction, but rather than confront the problem, she or he pretends to be spiritual and therefore above it. The result is a letter (or conversation) that is full of affectionate words that ring hollow because it’s just a layer of pink icing slathered on top of the problem that she or he refuses to face.

Meditation of the Week

My friend, NBC TV reporter Charlotte Fadipe, and I were noshing at the Greek Village Inn last weekend and chatting about the financial state of our country. She’s launching a new blog called The Dollar Diva to help others make ends meet. How do <i>you</i> share the love?