Accomplishment is the fruit of striving. Creation is the fruit of being. — Frank Rubenfeld

Lately I’ve been experiencing interstices in time. These interstices come just after finishing something, a task, a conversation, a meal, and before fixing on the next idea or project on my mental to do list. Sometimes they come in the midst of doing something but the thing that I am doing quite unexpectedly expands and morphs into something else.

Here are four examples from the past week:


May is weed-eating month in Calaveras County. It’s when we cut the grass and weeds from around the house to create “defensible space” in the event of a wildfire. I was doing when I veered into territory that has remained uncleared for the five years we have lived here, drawn towards an old oak tree with many low-hanging dead branches, completely surrounded by high grass and brambles. I cut the weeds in a wide circle around the tree and got the chainsaw to clear the dead branches in the understory. I was drawn to the tree, the way I was drawn to certain perfect climbing trees as a boy. I recalled that those trees, when I was nestled in their boughs, afforded a whole new perspective on the land around me. I have yet to climb this one, but there was something profoundly satisfying about clearing the space underneath it, and then looking at the land around me from a vantage point I had never stood in before.


In the process of editing The Restless Hungarian film, I am using hundreds of historical and family photographs. Some of the photographs with dust specks, striations, and fingerprints beg to be cleaned in Photoshop. It’s easy to do. The trick is not to make them too perfect, erasing the authentic patina of time. Often, I seem to go inside a photograph, imagining the circumstances in which it was made, feeling myself in the skin of a person long gone, as I gently clean the specks from their faces.



I have been having weekly Skype conversations with my cousin Pal, in Budapest. Sometimes we run out of things to say, the narrative of our week, and just sit there, looking at each other through our screens, in companionable silence.


Sharon has discovered a small lizard living in the window casement in our bedroom. It often comes out to sun itself on the screen. Sometimes we just stop and marvel at the delicacy of its silhouette against the sky.


Interstitial time is not lazy. It is contemplative, languorous, even voluptuous, without a sense of urgency to move onto the next thing.




There are interstices in space as well as in time, in both the interstellar and microscopic realms. I recently rediscovered a tiny toy microscope that was in my Christmas stocking a few years ago. Despite the fact that it fits in the palm of my hand, it is quite strong… much more powerful than a magnifying glass. Looking at ordinary, everyday objects though this tiny microscope reveals intricate patterns that I was completely unaware of. There is a richness in this way of seeing. I am reminded of a short video I made just of the fun of it, with my botanist friend Seth Melchert, Fern Madness.



DOING, not BEING, has been my mantra my whole adult life. Do a task, cross it off the list, and move onto the next. At the end of the day, measure your worth by what you have accomplished. Tell others what you have done and receive their blessing, their approbation. Doing is the way we are conditioned to live in the world. At its most fundamental level, doing is survival.

Experiencing interstitial time and space, or rather giving myself permission to experience it, is unfamiliar.

Recently I attended a Zoom meeting with twelve other filmmakers. In this time of social distancing, I wanted to feel a connection with my peers, a sense of community. I think others may have wanted the same thing, but the meeting was framed with logical, well-intentioned pragmatism. How were we doing now, as filmmakers, in the time of the pandemic? How were we managing? How might our experiences be useful to others? Each of us had a few minutes to introduce ourselves and talk about what we were DOING as filmmakers. To expect the meeting to be anything other than this seemed unrealistic.

Yet I found myself wanting to talk about BEING, so I spoke about making our vegetable garden and planting seeds for the first time in my life. I said that at this moment, in the midst of glorious Spring weather, I was drawn to spend time outside, rather than in my editing room. I did not say much about myself as a filmmaker. In retrospect I fear I disrespected the agenda and probably crossed a line when I asked a young writer who specializes in horror films, to describe what it was like to BE a writer in this time of pandemic. In what context could she possibly formulate an answer?

Another writer, whom I met during his senior year at Berkeley High School in 1999, is the spoken word artist Daveed Diggs. I worked with him to create a rap-poem video which, like the microscope, I had just rediscovered. Here is his The Future of Soul.



How do you envision the future of soul, individually and collectively?

For me, this article, about mutual aid in the time of the pandemic, hints at an answer.