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Posts Tagged ‘self pity’

After the four-hour delay, sitting around the airport when I should have been in bed, thinking about the hour drive once I landed in Baltimore and thinking about being bushed for the next day’s all-day boot camp, I began my impromptu trip in an ill mood.

Upon finally arriving around one in the morning in Alexandria for the Veterans Film Festival, my weary mind and body didn’t appreciate the news that Hotwire couldn’t find me a deal on a hotel as it was after midnight. I pulled into a Travelodge hoping beyond hope that this would be the only 2-star motel in the world that acted more like a 3 or 4-star motel. Upon attempting the separation of my nostrils repeatedly, I concluded that someone had smoked in this room or they used cheap rug cleaners or both.

At this point, I didn’t care that I could’ve found something a lot better for the same price. I simply collapsed. I felt like a coach who had just witnessed his opposition striking out the side…in the first inning.

As I listened to speakers, met fellow producers and screenwriters, I began to get discouraged by the daunting job of producing a feature film.

I was flustered by very minor things. I was ready to give up. That’s when I met U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne. He was the subject of one of the documentaries in the film festival. I asked him if we could get a selfie. He stopped what he was doing, smiled and began to pose on the red carpet. Just then, a hurried, haggard and terse staffer interrupted us. Undeterred, Travis politely told her that he agreed to a photo and put his “arm” around me.

Flashback to April 10, 2012: While on patrol in Afghanistan, Travis lost portions of both arms and legs as the result of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), making him one of just five quadruple-amputees from the wars there and in Irag to survive their injuries. I saw his film that night. The bomb blew his body apart, but only enlarged his impregnable heart and will. His total focus was to get back to take care of  his wife and baby girl, both whom he adored.

Later, I watched another documentary about a young Marine vet named Shane who had post-traumatic stress disorder from an IED that pummeled  him with consuming headaches and life-changing psychological problems. Then there were films about the atrocities of the Holocaust and another about a Japanese-American WWII hero whose maneuvering and wit in the Asian mountains against incredible odds helped win battles despite losing most of his company. There was another short on two U.S. Army Rangers who returned to Mogadishu, Somalia, after twenty years and reflected on the horrors of their infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident. Another short showed the incredible tenacity of a sniper who had to crawl miles to successfully get his target.

In “Raising The Bar,” Jason Sturm’s life was altered when a training exercise took his leg. He overcomes with a prosthetic leg and continues to push himself harder than everyone else in a gym as their cross fit instructor. He earned the right to have a large “No Whining” sign painted on the wall.

I had been worried about flight delays, lost sleep, some finances and the looming movie I have yet to produce and I had gone to the film festival for all the reasons that producers and writers attend such events. Actually, I had needed to go as a movie-goer who had to take in a little lesson on self pity – on a Memorial Day weekend, no less.

BELOW: HAVING TRAVIS’ “ARM” AROUND ME WAS A GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT AND PRIVILEGE. 

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