I got an email this morning from Oli Lewington. Some of you who have kept up with the blog may know that Oli suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and last year, before shooting Gone Fishing, he wrote to me. I had posted a blog about my fears of failure, and Oli wrote to me encouraging me, and reminding me that he had only months to live if he did not get a lung transplant. His blog post from then is here.
Happily Oli got the operation and is doing well. Anyway, he read the piece I wrote a few days ago about my actress friend Marlyn Mason… His email is self explanatory, so here it is…
Isn’t it funny how sometimes things come along just at the right time. I’ve had a terrible week this week, losing an old friend to CF who I haven’t spoken to in over a year. I’ve really been struggling, as you can read on my blog and it’s really got me down.
Luckily for me, Bruce Lee’s influence extends beyond the grave and your piece about Marlyn and her encounter with the legend has totally refocused my mind. I’ve always been a reflective person and generally not prone to needless funks, but this week had been a bit too much. Now, with “What is...IS...” solidly implanted in my brain, I’m setting out on the first steps of a new career this morning with a spring in my step and the weight of the week lifted.
If you could, I’d really appreciate you passing on my thanks to Marlyn, too – after all, had she not told you the story, you’d never have repeated it and I’d never have got its benefit. Thanks again, keep onwards and keep upwards… Oli
Marlyn just responded to Oli, and copied me in, so now very publicly, are words of wisdom form a small wooden home in Oregon...
Hello, Oli....How do you do? I'm Marlyn Mason. Chris Jones just forwarded your email to me and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to say hello. (I'm sharing this email with him).
It was good to hear that Bruce Lee's words, WHAT IS IS, had the same affect on you as they did me so many years ago. I share them as often as I can. It takes some people a little while to grasp it, some don't bother at all, and then there are those like you and Chris who get it immediately. We're the lucky ones, I believe.
About losing your friend; When I was very young a woman told me that "one is dead when one is forgotten". To this day anyone I've known who has died is still very much alive in my mind. The idea brings me peace and comfort because I can visit any one of them when ever I wish. Their addresses and phone numbers remain intact and whenever I come across them I can stop for a bit and relive a distant memory. And you can do the same with your friend. Don't beat yourself up for thoughts unspoken, grudges held. It's what IS. Let them go. You only stop yourself if you don't.
I truly believe that life is about continual loss but not in a maudlin sort of way. Life unfolds as it should and to me is one gigantic moment, the little tick-tocks in between passing continually, gone in a whiff.
I consider myself very lucky to have lived the years that I have and still feel a kind of spirit within me that's never changed, that it's always there. Maybe Bruce Lee sensed that and took the time to say "WHAT IS IS", knowing I would in time understand it. Actually, all that he said to me as he took me by the shoulders was "don't say a word, just listen. What is is". I didn't say a word. We never had another discussion about it. And forever my life was changed in the most extraordinary way.
Maybe yours will be, too, Oli.
Onward and upward! Marlyn
Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author