i officially finished classes at NYU. now i just have to direct my thesis film and i'll have an MFA.

the life of a creative is the life of a nomad. and as much as i have struggled to make great films, pay my rent, and not rack up too many student loans, i have also struggled to grasp the meaning of all this. some days it doesn't mean anything at all. i watch tv and think, 'i couldn't possibly want to spend my entire life entertaining people?' i was supposed to be a ph.d. or an m.d. or something else equally respectable. what is the point of all this?

i have left nyu and come back and left again and come back again and, though it's been far from perfect, film school has taught me a lot about myself. i'm much tougher than i thought i was, have a lot more determination and discipline. i seem to be able to summon the last bit of effort necessary to finish my projects, whether that means staying up four nights in a row. i realize that not everybody has that.

what i do know for sure is that i am compelled to tell stories. this compulsion drives me to ignore my need for money and stability and food and rest. perhaps i do not have that voice in my head that says, stop, relax, put down roots. i look at people who do have it and cannot see myself at all in them. they do not seem concerned with how precious and short life is, with how little time we have to make a difference. or perhaps we, the creatives, must exorcise the collective wanderlust, so that civilized society can continue paying mortgages, buying cars, paying taxes, and settling down.

but now that film school's over, i seek a new normal. in the seven years since i started, i have changed so much. i have gray hairs and the beginnings of wrinkles  and seem to have little patience for childishness. i still want to make films, but i don't want to lose myself in the process. not for money or fame or even the hunger for them, which seems far more destructive. i want more balance in my life, and free time and music and photography and love.

i really just want to be F R E E. and i have always felt that film, or any art-making, would give me the kind of freedom that my parents never knew--the freedom to become something far beyond my narrow imagination, beyond the status i was born into, beyond nation and even language.

and it's something i felt even before i had the words to articulate it, when i was just a kid sitting at the piano feeling this divine energy coursing through my fingertips that was so much wiser and deeper and greater than me. and tho i didn't end up a concert pianist or violinist or singer or dancer, it is that freedom which i seek to nurture as an artist. always. --AL.

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