I met Jason in the most unlikely of places... especially considering the conversation that ensued from that evening. I was a few beers and a tequila pour into my evening at a local honkey tonk, and soon after meeting Jason we found ourselves outside having a cigarette and talking about the bullshit that surrounds the idea of enlightenment. Just a few days later we were moving the enormous prop that he and his friend, Devin Drake built for Jason's short film into their back yard for this photo shoot.
The whole time that I was unloading photo equipment from my Jeep and helping to move and set up this amazing bit of film magic I was thinking, "what is my life?" I mean that in the best way. If you're open to it, every once in a while life will throw you a little surprise. It may not always be something completely profound or what you expected, but it will be enough to shake you up a little bit and make you reevaluate everything.
Even after having several long and very deep conversations with Jason, and also seeing a bit into his creative mind having seen his film Pilots, I still find him to be a wonderful mystery. He is someone that I feel that I understand well enough, but I know that there's so much more there. So much more that I feel he's hiding from me and the world. Maybe even himself.
In our conversations, I have found a very genuine person. One that holds a healthy amount of skepticism, a hard-yearning for the truth and enough dry and slightly crass humor to fill a whole season of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Jason is quick, smart, thoughtful, and I think harbors even more empathy and compassion than I he lets on.
I've said it before of others; sometimes you meet people who refresh you with their very existence. They remind you of the grand and beautiful oddities we're capable of that make being human so very wonderful, and they provide a sense of hope for us all in doing so.
Keep an eye out for these folks. Get to know them.
Love Aimlessly, My Friends
What gets you out of bed every day?
Getting out of bed is probably the hardest thing for me each day. Usually, I’m more successful at it if I have something I need to do on that day. If I don’t I just kind of stay in my bed for longer than is comfortable. I don’t know why I need to keep reminding myself that I don’t like it. I don’t like just lingering and not doing things, but it seems like I have to keep living through it to remind myself that it’s unpleasant. One of these days I'll just get out of bed without thinking about it.
When I do get out of bed it’s often times just the anxiety of having to do something. Too often I just get on my fucking phone and look at funny pictures and send them to my friends.
More existentially, what gets me out of my metaphorical bed is my want to become a filmmaker. I want to create art and I want to create collaborative art. I feel that I'm smart enough and have enough knowledge to make whatever I want by myself, but it's so lonely and so boring to do that. What really excites me is when someone else is passionate.
I'm working on my film, Pilots. The brilliance of it came from working with my friends Devin, who built the ship and Noah, who's doing the sound. The three of us came up with the concept together and were so excited about it! That's what made it better than any other project. Any project that you do alone is just like a self-indulgent soap-box. You're just saying, "here's what I've learned, and here's what you should know," and it's so boring! I love seeing what other people have to contribute and watching the project blossom. That's what really drives me.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned to date?
You can skip to the end. You can withdraw… You can call the external world ‘evil’ and withdraw from it, and you’ll find complete and total stillness and truth, sure. However, I think that it’s much more admirable when people carry on. When people knowingly get wrapped up in the mess of life because it’s just so brave of you to just play along with the world so sincerely and entranced. That’s where the fun comes. That’s were the pain comes, but that’s why we’re here.
There was a period where I was learning about truth, and everything I read was saying “get rid of…” Get rid of your things. Don’t attach yourself to people. Don’t attach yourself to your dreams… Now, I’ve kind of flipped the entire script. There wasn’t really a period where I abandoned what I’d learned. I just went deeper into what I was learning and had the revelation that I want to dance with everything. I want to get hurt by things and I want to be affected by things because that’s what makes the most interesting looking show. “I don’t want to go to the mountaintop and sit because that’s boring.” I’m quoting Kathy McHugh there.
It’s hard, but I’m glad that I know and that I’ve learned that we can’t find ourselves completely in an external world. When you discover that... you discover that nothing can truly hurt you on your soul-level. Nothing can destroy you because you’re already nothing. You’re emendable, so dive right into the bramble bush and see what happens. You never know what it looks like from down there and it could be pretty cool.
It’s something that you have to choose moment by moment, though. Sometimes you’re saying to yourself, “This is really hard. I feel depressed today and I want to die. This feels numb.” You still have to make that decision in those times. You still have to throw yourself into it.
What is love?
Oh my gosh! This is so relevant! I'm working on a script that's rehashing Plato's Symposium which is just philosophers sitting around and talking about love in monologue form.
Something that really changed how I thought about love was reading Kierkegaard, which is so dense! I don't pretend to understand it all.
He was talking about God's love in a kind of sacrificial way. Existence is purposeless, right? We're here to play. We're here to dance. Love, by definition, has to be purposeless. There can't be a motive, in my opinion. True, true love between two people is always selfless and so rare. People who say that they have it often don't. This sort of motiveless presence with each other. What I drew from Kierkegaard was that because love was purposeless, because love can't have any motive, when God created the universe there wasn't any motive. There was no game, winning or positive or negative outcome. It was just kind of a gift. When you look at it like that all existence is love. When you look at it as purposeless.
There are two kinds of reactions to a purposeless life. One is "Oh my God! What am I doing here?!" Depression. It's also very freeing. "Oh! Well, I could do anything because there's no purpose. There's no rhyme. I can literally do whatever the fuck crosses my mind."
The fear of a purposeless existence is figuring out which to choose. Asking if you're free or are you trapped. Both are true. Both are equally true. It's like choosing to be happy instead of letting yourself succumb to depression.
I think that love, beyond romantic love, but including it is the fundamental building block of existence. It's this purposeless dance that we've been given. I think that we see signs of that in each other and anything that we do. The most obvious of these in romantic love. As soon as you look at somebody and you realize that you don't want them to do anything different. You don't have any motive in attaching yourself to this person. They are not a commodity that makes you happy and you are just completely present with this person and you will give whatever you have away just to be with them. You just kind of disintegrate. I think that that's love. Love is everything.
It's like those little 60's quotes. "love is everything" and you think Oh, that's cute. Then you dig deeper into it and you're like "HOLY SHIT! It's ALL love!"
If you use the paradigm of God creating this purposeless existence for us to co-habitate he did it without any sort of motive and that was the core building block. Whenever we quiet our minds enough to see that at any moment... and it could be anything. It doesn't have to be romantic love. It doesn't have to be sex.
The reason that sex is so enticing is that I think it kind of forces us to let go. It's hard to achieve a really great orgasm while you're still holding on to your ego. While you're still holding on to your identity and trying to look cool. While you still have a motive. A true and powerful orgasm comes when you let go of your motives. That's where the power of sex comes in and it humbles us into seeing the kind of purposeless presence, (that's a good band name) that we are. Always. Right?
About Jason: Jason is a filmmaker studying at Watkins College in Nashville, TN. He's recently finished his short film, PILOTS. His portraits were taken in the ship set he and his friend, Devin Drake built for the film. You can view PILOTS by clicking the link below.
27 years old
From Northern Virginia
Lives in Nashville, TN
Click Images to enlarge