Sitting On A Gold Mine

I’ve been immersed in a few video projects throughout the summer, two that have weaved their stories and characters together in ways that I never imagined possible, changing my perceptions of how video production, art, story and community could impact others.

Yesterday, as I listened to the collective wisdom of marketers, social media experts, gurus, emergency managers, pastors, artists, realtors and writers, it struck me: I’m sitting on a wealth of information. In fact, I’m sitting on a gold mine of wisdom, knowledge and life-altering story. Now what?

There is a description for what I am immersed in, Qualitative Analysis, and it is simply mining the words, recollections and stories of others in order to tell a larger story. All of these stories are telling me something, but what could it possibly be?

Driving home this morning after taking my wife to work, I realized that the gold mine that I was sitting on was this: All of this analysis leads back to my friendship and mentorship of one person. My life is changing today because of a relationship I began ten years ago and have fostered over the decade.

A young man, eager to be a filmmaker, created epic stop-motion animated feature-length films. I admired his desire to learn, his dedication to story and cinematography. I have tried to help him over the years in any ways that I could, and to see him become an amazing filmmaker today makes me joyful. His story would continue intersecting with my own as he eventually married the daughter of a client. That client would occasionally receive building construction loans through the credit union that my mom works for. Weaving threads of lives, creating a rich tapestry of colors and lives.

But it continued, my friend was presented with an opportunity to make a promotional video for a church planting organization in Vancouver, WA, but seeing as he lives in Los Angeles, he suggested me instead (thank you by the way). The contract was written, the scope of the project envisioned, and I set out on what would become a life-altering journey of story and community told through the eyes of diverse characters and larger-than-life personalities.

I traveled to Puyallup, Salem, Sherwood, Downtown Portland, throughout Vancouver, and I witnessed life after life gripped in epic struggles of faith, love, failure, cancer, sickness, sin, healing, forgiveness. I saw people rise above it all for the sake of building something greater than their individual selves. They were building community, one day at a time.

Reflecting upon the first shoot, I could easily say that it was trivial and not important, but it is the foundation for how my life would be interrupted: Four pastors and a mentor discussing the diagnosis of cancer that one of them received. I saw a small band of people rally together to pray for him, and that was just the start.

Weeks later, I noticed that individual’s name on Facebook in the form of a fundraising event at Pop Culture. The community was rallying around him to support his family as he went through the expensive and soul-wrenching process of chemotherapy and radiation. Over 150 people gathered to celebrate and support him. Faith didn’t matter. It wasn’t about religion. It was about love. It was about community. Sacrifice. Celebration. Yet, this was still the story of the church planting organization, and it just got a lot bigger and expansive. How was I going to tell this story in 5-10 minutes?

On top of this, I found out who the person that organized the fundraiser and determined to tell her story for Innovators of Vancouver. This one project for a church planting organization morphed into two projects all about the same thing: the love and development of communities.

It is all about community.

Diverse, smelly, messy and loving community.

That is the gold mine I am sitting on.

So, now that I know what the gold mine is, I need to tell the story of community in each project, but more importantly, I need to tell the story of community in my own life.

What gold mine are you sitting on? What relationships do you have that are potentially life-changing? Are you going to let people in? Take the time to learn about them? Lower your defenses in order to share who you are deep down inside?

These are the questions I not only ask you, but myself as I tell the story of my life in the midst of community.