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The Only Thing That is Constant is Change


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I have a slight problem with obsessively trying to fix myself. Or define myself. Writer. Basketball Player. Actor. Student. Friend. Filmmaker. I plot out my future and stick to my Life Schedule. Sometimes it doesn’t leave room for exploration and flexibility, for the way that life steps all over your plans and plays hopscotch on your face.

If I had to pick one thing that I learned over and over through my years in high school, it would be that it is okay to accept change and open yourself up to wherever your path leads you, even if it is not in the conventional direction.

When I first started high school, I was already writing in my journal every day, and I knew that I wanted to become an Author. But when I went to sign up for electives freshman year, there was no creative writing class I could take. I thought about Drama, Choir, and Art, but I eventually decided on Video Production because I figured I could learn screenwriting and hone my storytelling skills. Little did I know that I would fall in love with every aspect of the filmmaking process, from the blueprint screenplay, to barking at actors, to spending way too much time alone in my room editing the final product. But I had to be open to letting my carefully laid plans change dramatically right before my eyes. And it happened practically overnight.

I am shooting footage for my documentary on Vietnam when we visited the country my Senior year.

I am shooting footage for my documentary on Vietnam when we visited the country my Senior year.

Even while I was taking the film class, I knew I was going to be a writer. I would frantically scribble poems in my journal and devour books on creative writing. Sometimes it was lonely or frustrating, and I didn’t like editing my work. But journalling and composing poetry has always helped me escape the pressures of school, whether it be a fight between friends or the dreaded derivatives of AP Calculus. Even though writing could be very isolating at times because it was such a solitary practice, I liked the idea of having an end goal and a map for my future. I was so sure that writing was going to be my career focus.

I am reading poetry at a workshop.

I am reading poetry at a workshop.

But I still really enjoyed Video Production, so I decided to take Broadcast Journalism as an additional elective my sophomore year. I learned how to develop factual, hard news stories backed up by research and interviews. I was able to become Webmaster the next year, overseeing the blogs and web content for the show. “Great,” I thought. “I’ll be able to write!”

I joined Get Lit – Words Ignite, a performance poetry organization that promotes literacy and social justice in Los Angeles. I was suddenly able to write poetry in a community of artists, instead of just by myself.

I am performing "Cats" at Woodruff Symphony Hall in Atlanta, Georgia for Brave New Voices Finals with Get Lit - Words Ignite.

I am performing “Cats” at Woodruff Symphony Hall in Atlanta, Georgia for Brave New Voices Finals with Get Lit – Words Ignite.

At the same time, I was still working on projects in my Video Class. I created “Spoons” a short film about a girl discovering her sexuality. I also applied for News Director, the highest leadership position in Broadcast Journalism.

The crew of "Spoons" gets a difficult shot of the protagonist in close-up.

The crew of “Spoons” gets a difficult shot of the protagonist in close-up.

When it came time to tour colleges my junior year, of course I toured the creative writing departments. I learned about the different programs, writing houses, communities, and workshop classes that the schools offered. I was set on studying creative writing and literature.

I am performing at the LA Times Festival of Books with Get Lit - Words Ignite.

I am performing at the LA Times Festival of Books with Get Lit – Words Ignite.

And then came the AP test for Calculus BC. The day before the exam, I was extremely stressed out. It felt like I had been studying for the test for years, and it was all coming down to that last night of relentless textbook-plummeting. I was cracking from the pressure, and I just wanted AP testing to be done so I could drink tea, read poetry, pet my cats, and go to sleep.

That same day, with the exam looming over me like a group of overprotective but menacing tiger moms, my Video Production teacher Mr. Hernandez pulled me aside after class. He told me that I got the position of News Director (along with the wonderful and brilliant Kit Chavers) for next year’s Broadcast staff. I was ecstatic. It was also the same week I finished my film, “Spoons,” and fell in love with the final product, reminiscing over the fun collaboration of making the movie.

I am directing a Broadcast show with Max Ackerman as CPU and Kit Chavers as Co-News Director.

I am directing a Broadcast show with Max Ackerman as CPU and Kit Chavers as Co-News Director.

Also, being recognized for my skills as a leader in Broadcast made me realize I might actually be good at this video thing. Those two events combined in my poor shriveled raisin of a calculus-cluttered brain to form an interstellar shift in the 405 freeway of life for Miriam Lena Sachs. When I got home, I was so antsy and full of excitement that I climbed my tree to the very top and looked over the roofs of all the houses on my block. Suddenly it was as if my forehead nugget of a brain had caught fire and was screaming at me over and over and over, and not just because of the upcoming calculus test. It had a Life Message for me straight from The Fates themselves:

YOU NEED TO MAKE MOVIES! YOU NEED TO GO TO FILM SCHOOL!

I don’t know why I didn’t see it before that moment, but up there in the branches of my magnolia tree, it became as clear as whatever the opposite of calculus is. (Or maybe that clarity was just my lightheadedness from climbing so fast and then looking down at the ground far below. Very far below.) Either way, there was no denying the Life Message ringing in my ears. I thought, “I’m actually kinda good at this film thing, I guess. And I actually kinda love it. Like, a lot.”

I spent the rest of the day researching film programs at various schools around the country and obsessively reading he-said-she-saids on College Confidential. I couldn’t fall asleep that night because of the frenzy of emotion. It was fantastic.

The next day, I took the hardest test of my entire life. I think I actually shed tears. In the Free Response section, it asked how fast Michael could go on his bike based on wind direction and velocity. I drew a very elaborate picture of little Mike riding his bicycle and wrote “Very Fast.” Later I found out that I got a one on the Calculus exam. But I didn’t care.

I WAS GOING TO FILM SCHOOL!

Flash forward a year, and I’m making movies by the handful, pulling them out of this trusty little brain thing, writing scripts based on dreams and filming them in the garden by my house. I have mixed poetry and imagery, creating movies based on poems or writing poems for the screen.

I am making a movie called "A Student Named Art" with Paul O'Mara and a classroom of actors and production assistants.

I am making a movie called “A Student Named Art” with Paul O’Mara and a classroom of actors and production assistants.

So, sometimes plans change. Sometimes passions and ideas, talents and truths, come together in unexpected ways. Even though I was so set on becoming an Author and going to school for creative writing, that was simply not the path the good ol’ white-robed incarnations of destiny had in mind for me. I guess Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos knew I needed to do something more collaborative. They knew I was the kind of person who likes to put on a big production. And sometimes, you have to just trust The Fates. After all, they do control “the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal from birth to death.”

Let’s wrap it up, shall we?

The moral of the story is to go with the flow, do what you love, trust that it will all come together, and study harder for calculus. Keep trying your best and have a little faith. You might just have an existential crisis at the top of your magnolia tree. You never know. Stay open. Accept change. But don’t just take it from me, Heraclitus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who said that “The only thing that is constant is change.” So change. Let the universe show you the way.

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