It’s September. The new television season is about to premier. And once again – for, now, the fourth season – I won’t be a part of it.
I’m sometimes asked, “Do you miss it?”
I miss it a lot.
I miss the big checks. I miss the excitement of putting on a show. I miss working at the top of my game (though this blog continues to yield substantial creative pleasures). I miss driving through the studio gate. I miss having an office on the lot. I miss eating in the commissary. I miss the energy. I miss the interaction. I miss having my hair cut by the studio barber.
I miss being who I was.
But there remains an enduring satisfaction. I can best describe what I’m talking about by recounting a sequence from a movie called Northwest Passage.
In Northwest Passage, Spencer Tracy plays Robert Rogers, the leader of a company of guerilla-style soldiers who fought alongside the British in the French and Indian Wars.
Walter Brennan, a regular soldier, accompanied Rogers on his last harrowing adventure. The expedition had come close to annihilation, but had finally returned safely.
In the sequence I remember, Rogers and his men are heading out on another perilous patrol. As the company marches past the tavern on their way out of town, the Brennan character watches from the tavern door, a smile on his face and a tankard of ale in his hand.
“Ain’t you goin’?” Brennan’s asked by a drinking companion.
Brennan’s eyes crinkle up, and he utters the line that capsulizes his character’s condition.
“I’ve been,” he replies.
The enduring satisfaction.