Weathering the Storm / by Rebecca Tillett


The final results of a stop-motion project for my Humanities class.

Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.
— Haruki Murakami

Have you ever heard the idiom weather the storm? Of course you have. Being American and well-versed in trite and overused phrases are synonymous, aren’t they? I have weathered quite a few storms in my nearly 32 years and so it seemed natural to choose that as a theme for this project and take a leap.

I landed on stop-motion, a ridiculously tedious and time-consuming task and why? Well, I had originally wanted to do a theatrical monologue in which I acted the part of my father telling me all the things I’ve been aching to hear him say since he took his life and all hope of fence-mending between us, with him. I thought it could be cathartic and therapeutic and illuminating and all the other things that would have been appropriate as I reluctantly approach the dreaded halfway point of my life, the grim marker denoting I will have now spent just as much of my life without him as I did with him. The perfectly even allotment of absence and presence and the yearning I have to close that half of my life for good though it never is for good. (I’ve been closing that chapter of my life for good for the last fifteen of the sixteen years he’s now been gone but it’s what I have to say to myself to keep looking forward, I suspect. And though for good has still yet to happen, many pages have been turned and maybe some chapters never really do close for good. Maybe we always keep that book laying around somewhere, sprawled open and we glance it every once in a while, careful not to get too lost in it again. And maybe that’s okay.) But I’m meandering…

I landed on stop-motion because it’s something I’ve always wanted to try and if I’m being perfectly honest, a theatrical monologue in which my father is the subject is not something I’ve always wanted to try and in in fact, it absolutely terrifies me. So I chickened out, yet challenged myself in a different way and decided to go for broke in my attempt at stop motion and why not now? Why not for this project? I couldn’t think of a good enough reason not to, really. Originally, this video was going to be about me and the adversity I’ve withstood and how it’s completely changed me (mostly for the better) and how fortunate I feel to have endured it, to have transformed because of it, to have a greater appreciation for the moments of smooth sailing when I wasn’t weathering the storm. I liked the idea of a phoenix emerging from the fire as something better than it had been. I had a multitude of great and grand ideas for this video but external circumstances and a sheer lack of the time necessary for such a monumental project became more evident as I began tackling it and my phoenix theme was sacrificed as a result. But I still gravitated toward the theme of weathering the storm and I wasn’t about to give up on my dream of stop-motion so after a little simplification of the concept and a little help from two of the most important people in my life, I felt confident to tackle it. After spending most of a Saturday struggling to get usable footage, I concluded with about 40 seconds of video and 250 still frames (that works out to roughly 6 frames a second) and I’m proud of that. It’s painfully amateur and maybe even comical but I’m ecstatic I attempted something I had never done before (and succeeded!) because as a good friend recently told me, “getting better at life involves over-committing” and boy, did I over-commit on this one.