Monday, September 28, 2009

R and R time required after visiting the family.

 I just returned from a 3 day trip to my old stomping grounds on the east coast of Florida. The reason for the visit was for a few reasons: one, to accept an achievement award from the community college I attended 23 years ago, two, to speak at the Fort Lauderdale Institute of the Arts and three, to celebrate my parents 50 wedding anniversary. So, I was really looking forward to this trip when I left.

I had a great time catching up with two of my old college professors (these guys really made a difference in my life) and I was also able to catch up with two of my dearest college buds. I got to play paddleball on the beach and go out to eat and just hang out and reignite old friendships; friendships that I had let laps over the years. I had a great time with them. Over all I feel as though it was a really great visit except for the family part, that part had its ups and downs and its bumps and bruises. On the five and a half hour flight home I was able to reflect on the time I spent in good old Hollywood, Florida, and all the events and conversations that I was involved.

As I sat on the plane and tried not to get to agitated with the over cramped conditions, for I was seated in a center seat between two guys a little bigger than me. My situation was compounded by the southern humidity and by the large guy sitting to my left of me. Try and imagine how annoyed I was getting when he fell asleep and was infringing on my space, and snoring. Anyway, I started to reflect on the past three day's events and realized that even though the trip was full of excitement, I was really very uneasy. After reflection, I realized that most of my stress revolved around visiting my family.

On this trip I had two speeches to prepare as well as a two to three hour keynote presentation to deliver in front of not-sure-how-many college students and faculty. Normally, this kind of stress would be more than most could handle; however, I was more stressed out about how things were going to play out with my family than I was about the presentations in front of strangers. One by one I got through my tasks and the weight of them was lifted from my shoulders but the family stress remained a constant from the beginning of the trip to the end of my trip. Why is that, I asked myself? Now, I know I’m not alone in this dilemma, many people find it stressful to visit their families, but just once I would love to go visit and not need a few days of rest and recovery time when I returned to my own home. There are situations and scenarios that always seem to some how occur during my visits to my families’ house, or should I say houses.

I will not go into details or specifics of my visit (and it was not ALL bad!) but I will expand on my thoughts here. I have some rhetorical questions to ask. Why is it that people tend to treat friends and acquaintances better their own family? Why are consideration thrown out the window when we are dealing with family members? Why do people have better manners around friends and acquaintances? Why do they extend more grace and leniency to outsiders; more importantly, why are we willing to forgive more quickly and more easily with our friends than our family? You would think that it would be the opposite of said case, and we would extend a greater window of these things, seeing that your family is from your own blood and you have more history and time vested in your family. You would think it would be different because you know more about your family so it should be easier to not offend them. You would think family would always act in love and support in everything they do toward each other, but that is not the case.

You are probably thinking, all right already, I know this stuff, what’s your point? Well, if that is what you are thinking, relax, I’m venting here. If not, then here is my point. I think the first problem is that we tend to take our families for granted; therefore, we believe that we can say and do whatever we want to each other, we think it is okay for us to step on each others toes, no let me rephrase that, we stomp on each others toes with vigor! We have no problem pointing out each other’s faults, or criticizing each others parenting skills, we don’t have a problem attacking each other religious beliefs, and we don’t have any problem belittling each other’s personality traits and/or character. We have no problem forcing or imposing our ideas and/or our opinions upon each another. These things we wouldn’t dream of doing to a friend. The reason, they wouldn’t remain a friend for very long if we did.

Here is what we forget or disregard: our families are made up of free thinking diverse people, people with feelings and issues and sensitivities like all people. We need to remember that just because they are family members it doesn’t exempt them from having the same issues that any other person in the world might be dealing with. Our families are made up of regular people with real problems and normal reactive emotions. All our families are dealing with things like religious differences, political differences, archaic or old school attitudes, parental rearing differences and so on. Most of the time, the exchanges are well intentioned and offered in the spirit of trying to help. The problem is we don’t always deliver our opinions with love and consideration and respect. We don’t respect our family members’ boundaries and we surely don’t offer our opinion as if it were only our opinion, more as a known fact which is required by our family to get on board with how we think and live.

The next thing to remember is that as families mature and kids grow up and start their own families, the old family unit become the extended family and is less influential than when the family unit began. This demands that the old way of thinking and acting toward one another must be altered, the dynamics have changed and so we must also adopt new approaches and attitudes. Each member has its own direct family as there main interest and focus and the extended family (Mom, Dad, Brother and Sister, Aunt and Uncle, Grandma and Grandpa) take a back seat in living life. It’s not that people don’t care about what their extended family thinks, it’s just that they are on a different path in life and have there own way of doing things. In addition, people try to cram tons of advice and opinions into one or two days without enough background information, a recipe for disaster.

What is the solution to this toxic dilemma? I use the term toxic because it is the perfect word to describe what our attitudes and our approaches toward each other are like, a poison. This poison, will slowly seep in and do damage that can kill a family’s unity. Resentment builds and arguments happen and eventually people just stop visiting each other, it just isn’t worth the exhausting emotional drain.

God put us in our families and I'm sure there is a reason for why each one of is placed where we are placed, with that being said, it is our responsibility to treat our family as a gift, with love and respect. So, I think I will take my own advice this time and I’m going to think about my family as friends, friends I want to keep for life. I love my family and they deserve me being on my best behavior. Friendships need love, nurturing, respect, consideration and most of all forgiveness. Next time I go home I think I’ll talk a little less, listen a little more and offer things like my opinion and ideas when they are asked for. I want to be involved in my extended family’s affairs but only as much as they want and are comfortable with. We’ll see what happens the next visit.

Sketchbook drawing pencil/watercolor/Digital.

This was an idea for a shot in an early workbook for the film "Brother Bear".  Early in it's production, the story was still in flux, it was the father Chilkoot who was hunting Kenai.

This is a workbook sketch from brother bear, Kenai's brother attempts to jump across a gorge.

This was an establishing shot that turns into a dolly shot from "Mulan". They dumped the idea, this part of the story did not merit the expensive to execute the idea. 

This is a rough drawing for a stained glass fireplace cover, it never got done.

These are two workbook pages from a "Brother Bear" workbook.

These are ideas from "Lilo and Stitch", originally Stitch had a gang that came to earth and he ended up fighting against his own guys at the end. These were images that were being shown at Stitch's trial in the beginning of the move; they were images of violent and destructive acts that he and his gang were responsible for.

Sketchbook drawing of Boochy.

These are inspirational sketches I did for myself when I first went on to "Brother Bear".

Sketchbook drawings pencil/watercolor/digital.

1 comment:

  1. I could tell you were having some dilemmas to deal with during your visit, but all in all it comes down to that's how all families are. You nailed it down with the toxic part heh. I go through the same stuff on this side of the family...everyone has their own opinions about what I should or should not be planning in my life. Most of it negative except for the support I get from mom. She's my rock and fully supports me in all my endeavors. I just hope asking you to speak at school didn't add to your trouble, it was very appreciated not only by myself, but by the staff and I'm still getting thank you's from the students who attended.
    I could tell you were in some sort of mess when I picked you up that day...I go through the same thing with my old man everytime I see him. He knows all, I can't be right about anything, my experience isn't worth his time for the most part. Hell if I was to go back to visit him in Vegas I'd have to get a hotel room instead of being able to stay in the house I was raised in for a few days.
    Just remember deep down below it all the families still love us as much as always, just show it in different ways. If you wanna see some interesting conversations come to the Curcio side for a bit of life learning....they are perfect, never wrong....and work 10 times harder than anyone else in the world ever has....gotta love the illusions they bestow on themselves and really believe.

    Again I wish to extend thanks for helping me out while you were here. I learned tons, and have been working everyday since on getting a new reel together. Sorry bub, you've been a big inspiration for me for a long time now. I can only wish for half the success you've had in your career.
    I'll update you guys on my plans in the near future, since I now have a small plan in place to get working in the field.