When I worked as the Guest & Events Coordinator at the Film Festival in Victoria a number of years ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time with screenwriter, Peter Bellwood. Peter wrote the screenplay for the film Highlander.
Peter was a character. Jovial, energetic, eccentric. He had a shock of white hair on his head and wore a bright yellow scarf with a purple and orange jacket. Quite the contrast to me. A bit exhausted, slightly stressed, dressed in all black with just a splash of colour from time to time while I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off.
We hit it off straight away.
For anyone who’s ever worked at an arts festival you will know how much time, effort, and energy is required for very little compensation. Needless to say, I was putting in a lot of hours and taking on all sorts of extra stuff so when there was an opportunity to chill out and someone there to make me laugh, I jumped at the chance.
The photo below, one that Peter gave me, is a perfect depiction of what that experience is like and one of the first things he gave me to make me laugh. In case it’s too small to see, it’s a man in a suit on a business call having just been in an auto accident simply saying, “I was distracted for a moment. Go on.”
In fact, over the course of those 10 or 12 days, Peter gave me numerous comical and inspirational quotes and cartoons and poems, to lift my energy and my spirits when they were low.
Overall, I did enjoy my job at the festival. One of my jobs was to accompany filmmakers to schools where they talked to students of all ages about making movies, though I don’t recall much about what Peter shared with the students we went to see.
What I do remember, and still have, is a piece of writing he gave to me by Professor T. Ripaldi who talks about adults and their relationship to children. It’s by far one of my fondest memories of the time I spent with Peter and a piece of writing I refer back to often:
Notes On An Unhurried Journey
When we adults think of children, there is a simple truth which we ignore; childhood is not preparation for life; childhood is life. A child isn’t getting ready to live; a child is living. The child is constantly confronted with the nagging question: “What are you going to be?” Courageous would be the youngster who, looking the adult squarely in the face, would say, “I’m not going to be anything; I already am.”
We adults would be shocked by such an insolent remark, for we have forgotten, if indeed we ever knew, that a child is an active participating and contributing member of society from the time he is born. Childhood isn’t a time when he is moulded into a human who will then live life; he is a human who is living life. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied him by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation.
How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much we would teach each other… adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be.
A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him; for, after all, life is his and her journey too.