April 24, 2005
Weathered By Change
Outside the train windows as I write this, it is impossible
to ignore the arrival of spring. Green is sprouting everywhere;
the seasons are changing from winter to spring, overdue but
Change. Along with death and taxes, change is the constant.
Nothing stays the same, no matter how hard one hopes to hold
onto a particular moment. Moments are just that: moments.
Last week at CINE, a film and video organization based in
Washington, D.C., the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented
to Roger Ebert who was introduced by film critic Tom Shales.
What follows next is a paraphrase of Mr. Shales words.
He talked about the power of film, the role of the critic
in commenting upon film and its reflection of individuals,
each carrying forward their selves, trapped within the shell
of a particular being, from birth to death. We cannot escape
ourselves even while we are constantly changing, moment to
moment. We are the additive sum of all events that have happened
to us while constantly evolving as a result of those events.
We are the sum of triumphs, tragedies, laughter, tears, pratfalls,
broken love affairs, all the things that have happened to
us, creating one I, one unique character on a
planet filled with billions of them.
Looking around me, I see others are changing too. A friend
of mine has tempered and matured recently as the result of
the stresses of her job. She is the same person and different.
Cities change. New York is New York but it is always a little
different everyday. Something goes up; something comes down
but its soul remains. Los Angeles is a state of mind; constantly
changing its mind.
Gail Sheehey wrote a book called Passages and
another specifically about the passages men make, passing
from one phase of life to another. A small thing can suddenly
result in embarking on a life changing internal journey from
one continent in ones world to another. Or it can be
triggered by something larger, a 9/11, when both the city
and its inhabitants began a passage, neither ever being the
Couples go through changes and passages; sometimes they are
frightening maelstroms of emotion, suddenly precipitated and
perhaps only articulated in a sudden, single moment, but once
a bridge has been crossed, nothing will be quite the same
It does not mean it wont be better; it will just not
be the same.
We are all living in a state of flux and there are times
when that flux is so frightening we revert to old behaviors
in an effort to find comfort against the internal storm.
Confronting mortality is frightening. Is it any wonder that
at mid-life, a younger person seems more attractive than the
current companion? Many, male and female, yearn at some point
to return to a period of their life when their hearts were
young and not burdened by the cares of children, long term
relationships, aging, sickly parents, career disappointments,
their own physical pains? Who does not want at some moment
or other to be twenty-five again, if only for a time?
Yet change is uncomfortable and frightening. We have a certain
natural resistance to it. Frequently we do our best to avoid
it. Look at the Catholic Church. John Paul II is gone so,
in almost record time, the conclave of Cardinals elected the
man who had been called his vice Pope. His apparent
theological inflexibility is as comforting to many as it is
concerning to others. But it is definitely a move to hold
the status quo for at least a bit longer. At 78, he might
not reign for long though he seems spry enough to surprise.
[Am I the only one to wonder: have we not devoted a surprising
amount of attention to the passing of one Pope and the election
of the next? It seems the whole western world has been acting
Italian and Catholic the last few weeks.]
Popes die, cities re-mould themselves, love affairs inevitably
change, sometimes dying in mid-moment and sometimes growing
deeper once the tsunami passes. It is how we weather change
that defines our strength as individuals, as cities, as nations,
as a race.
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., (www.intermat.tv)
a television company which executive produces programs and
consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat,
Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of
television in various stages for a variety of networks. He
is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour
series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international
adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety
of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse
Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well
as many others.