A little over a week ago, my cat Mitzvah passed away. The fact that I knew it was coming, in that I had to make the excruciating decision to put him down, unfortunately, did not spare me the pain of loss. Mitzvah had virtually stopped eating and drinking which I had found to be highly unnerving during his last days.
On Mitzvah’s very last day, I vaguely remembered a salmon in my refrigerator. Those of you who may have followed my work over time, may remember that I have an animation project about salmon. Perhaps the greatest mission of salmon, as they make a journey upstream to the place where they were spawn, is in the sacrifice of their lives for our ecosystem. Feeling rather steeped in grief, the last thing I felt like doing was cooking anything. I got to work putting together a marinade favored by friends over the years, however, and grilled the fish in my backyard. Mitzvah ate with delight and vigor and for a few moments it was if nothing was wrong, he was the happiest he had ever been. A few hours later, he was gone.
Cooking and baking is a long-time family tradition and if I hadn’t known it before, I knew it then --that beyond the sustenance that food preparation can provide--it is an act of love. I was grateful I was able to create something for my pet cat that demonstrated love and meaning in a way he could understand. As simple as a creation as it was, it was indeed still a creation and it dawned on me that the creation of anything, regardless of how simple or complex, is at its core seeded in love.
When I think of the biggest creation I may be involved in to date, with the movie America’s Family, I ask myself where the love is. Is it woven into the stories of the many people I came to know along the journey, who have shared their experiences that found their way into the characters? Is it in the hearts of the artists who give up themselves, tirelessly, to each moment of the filmmaking? Is it in the faith that the producers and donors have put into the idea that this is not only a creative way but a uniquely powerful way to deliver valuable information - information that may help build a person’s bravery if she is forced into deportation or has to watch a loved one be deported? Information that can strengthen, protect and even reunify a family?
I would like to think that creativity, like love, has a circular, reciprocal motion. In this case the creation is a story, or many stories that speak to the very real atrocities that our immigrant compatriots and their families must continue to survive. These stories have been shared with me, and America’s Family is how I am sharing them with you. When people share their deepest vulnerability with the hope that it will inspire and support someone else’s journey their pain, hardship, loss and triumphs have not been in vain. This reciprocal and collective energy is powerful, perhaps powerful enough to help sustain our families, our communities and our world, if only for the little time we have together. If this isn’t love, I don’t know what is.