January 2022 Musings

Witnessing the creative process unfold is truly something to behold. And it’s all there to see in filmmaker Peter Jackson’s new Beatles biography Get Back. The doc is (a long) eight hours of never-before-seen footage and audio material, capturing the making of the band’s 12th and final album, Let It Be

The three part series can feel a bit tedious at times, but its length allows the viewer to truly immerse themselves in the complexities of the creative process. It’s a portrayal of the time investment truly required to pull something wonderful out of the ether. Through found materials Jackson portrays an alchemic creative process of trial and error, of give and take, in which the Beatles allow themselves to become entirely vulnerable as they struggle under the weight of their collective genius, ego, and fortune. 

At times it’s almost painful to watch these four brilliant musicians grinding their talents into each other and then pulling themselves apart as they attempt to honour and realize their own creative impulses. Pushing through the film, one gains a true sense of the tremendous and exhausting effort put forth into the album’s creation. The final hour of the series brings both the Beatles and the viewer’s significant investment to a spectacular conclusion, where only through punishing effort does their genius truly arrive.

Sitting through the three episodes I found my thoughts turning to how these young men in their twenties had already achieved so much and still had more they could have done together. The Beatles were in the prime of their youth. Their combined talents begged for further greatness yet here they were, unknowingly closing in on the end of their time together. It almost felt Sisyphean, as I found myself wishing for them to achieve even more, all the while knowing it would never be so. In the hindsight of history it seemed all too tragic to watch.

Which all leads me to the passing of my little dog Andy a few days before Christmas. He had bravely struggled with his health for the past couple of years. Andy had a number of illnesses that required a substantial effort on our part to keep him fit and alive. In February 2021 he suddenly lost his vision but held fast to his passion and joy for life. Then in the last couple months he lost much of his interest in eating and the decline became even more marked. He began to have difficulty walking and hearing and increasingly spent his time largely in sleep. Andy’s days were clearly numbered and as a family we made the agonizing decision to let him go before another tragic condition befell him and ended his life on a note of misery. His final days with us became a beautiful time of taking him to some of his favourite places and giving him all the attention he desired. He was a happy dog. And then we said goodbye.

As we move into 2022, loss is clearly nothing new and in the last couple years our planet has collectively found itself imbued with it. Yet watching great and beautiful things drawing to a close has once again proven to be a deeply profound experience for me. Be it the Beatles in their last days working together or the expiration of my old friend Andy, I’m again struck with a sense of urgency to not let life pass by too quickly. As we move through our lives it is increasingly clear to me how important it is to let one’s gaze fall upon things that truly matter and to be present with those you love. And to let them know you love them. Nothing lasts forever and once it’s gone, it’s truly gone. As I step into the coming year I’m hopeful that the work I create will touch upon that fleeting and empyrean nature of existence. Because life is simply much too short not to.

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