Would you tell me
How could it be
Any better than this?
How could it be
Any better than this?
1:25am. I've been home from the Artifact screening in Melbourne for a little while now, but I needed time before I was ready to write this. As it is, I'm not sure I'm ready now. Tonight was...Intense.
Before we continue I do want to point out that other people's views on tonight may vary. They probably will. You know when you're tainted by something and you put your own perspective on things?? Yeah. That.
For those of you who don't know, tonight was the Artifact screening in Melbourne. If you haven't seen it (what the heck is wrong with you), it's the story of the battle between Thirty Seconds To Mars and EMI during the making of Mars' third album, This Is War. You can read more about it here. Personally I have seen the film at least five thousand times, so for me, tonight was about the VIP component of the screening: the Q and A with the filmaker, Jared Leto. Also known as Bartholomew Cubbins.
I expected to be slightly less anxious about meeting him tonight, but alas, it was not the case. I felt just as sick as in did in Perth; perhaps even more so because this time it was to be only him. Shan and Tomo do not participate in Artifact screenings. I ended up dragging my mum into the city much too early, which worked out well as it meant I got to spend the day with more of my Echelon friends. There's something so special about that. It's an amazing thing to be surrounded by people who understand you and who feel the same way you do. I love you guys.
After a day of chatting and minor stalking (seriously Tomo, don't post the name of your restaurant on Instagram :p), we caught a taxi and headed down to the cinema. The VIP line was already quite long by the time we got there, but once check-in started, it moved quickly. Reni remembered my mum and I, so that was pretty cool. We got our wristbands and went inside the cinema.
The wait between VIP check-in, GA check-in and the actual film was pretty excruciating given the state of my nerves. We filled the time by catching up and "officially" meeting some of our friends on Twitter. Some people don't believe you can be friends with someone you only know online, but I call shenanigans on that. When the Echelon get together, it's like going to a family reunion. It's a beautiful thing. I got to meet some of my closet friends in 'real life', and I got to meet some of the people who participated in The Mars Project books. It was wonderful.
After a while Reni came in and gave us the rules for the night. They were much the same as Perth: hands up, don't ask about his hair because it's silly, try to ask interesting questions, no personal cameras. Then the lights dimmed, the opening notes of Escape began, and for the next 103 minutes I honestly forgot I was even seeing Jared again. I was so caught up in the film. If you haven't seen it, you are missing out. It's not just for people who love Mars. It's for any person trying to do something special with their lives. Go watch it. Now.
Once Artifact was over, all the people with GA tickets left and only the VIP people remained. Reni came back and told us how things were going to run (where to line up for our pictures with Jared etc), and a few minutes after she was finished we heard a small sweet voice saying "testing" into the microphone. A moment later Jared entered the room, and everyone clapped and cheered. I found it increasingly harder to breathe, but what else is new? He sat down in the middle of the 'stage' and began talking about Artifact. He told us a little about the creative process, about the struggles they faced, and asked us if we knew what the film was about at its core. A few people called out things like 'corruption', 'greed' and 'sticking it to the man', and he agreed with all that, but he said that ultimately the film was about dreams. It was about betting on yourself, no matter what.
He then opened the floor to questions. Unfortunately I can't remember everything that was asked and everything that he said, but overall it was a wonderful Q and A session. I felt he was very open and honest with us all, to the point where I really saw him as an actual human being for the very first time. That probably sounds super weird, but remember, I've always said that he was like a mythical creature to me. I saw him as living on his own plane, almost. Untouchable. Tonight made me really realise that he is a person. He is fragile and beautiful. That only made me love him more.
I wish I had a recording of tonight, because he said so many things that I needed to hear. That we all need to hear. He spoke about remembering the possibilities in life, and about reaching for your dreams no matter what. He spoke about prioritizing your time, and doing whatever is necessary in order to reach your goal. He said that he once knew an elite athlete who said that the reason he wins is not because he's naturally better than the other athletes, but because he is willing to bleed. He is willing to suffer a little for his dream. Jared said he believes in that, too. You do have to suffer and make sacrifices for what you want the most. He said the main reason people don't get to live their dreams is because they don't believe they can. He reminded us that the first step is believing you can, and being compelled beyond a reasonable doubt. Be compelled beyond a reasonable doubt. I'm just repeating it because it's so true. There's so much failure involved in pursuing a creative life. If you aren't compelled beyond a reasonable doubt, it isn't worth the heartbreak. He gave us some examples of his failures and heartbreaks, reminding us all that he is not 'special' or 'genetically blessed'. He just does the work. He does whatever is necessary in order to be great.
There were a lot of good questions that yielded brilliant answers from J. Some of the answers were sad -- like when he spoke about having to sacrifice relationships to be on tour -- but they were all so honest. Raw. I don't know of he was tired and that brought out the honesty in him (as opposed to the adorable goofball we often see in interviews), or if he's just always this candid in Artifact screenings, but I feel like this was the closet I've ever been to seeing the real him. Of course I have no basis on which to judge that or even try to decide who or what is the real him, but it felt like he was the most himself that I've ever seen. It was amazing and humbling at the same time. He spoke about the pressures and difficulties of his life, and said several times that as much as people want to be him, they likely wouldn't last more than a week. I'm inclined to agree. I don't know how he does all he does. He is amazing and inspiring like I can't even explain.
After a few more questions, it was picture time. I wanted to be at the end because I didn't want 100+ people to see me take my picture, so I went up to the very back of the cinema with my mum, Kim (@morefunthanwork) and Fiona (@Fionavarr). As I moved closer to him I practiced what I wanted to say, as I knew I needed to thank him for signing The Mars Project books. My heart was thumping so loudly I'm surprised he didn't hear it, but when it was my turn I managed to say, "Thank you so much for signing my books in Perth." He smiled and said "that's okay", but to be honest, I highly doubt he knew who I was or what I was talking about. That's okay, though. I don't mind. I'm grateful I got to say it; that's all I wanted. He put his arm around me and pulled me into the view of the camera, then gave a thumbs up as the picture was taken. I'm quite sure I'm staring at his hand in the picture because...Well because reasons. Some of you will get me.
As soon as I left the room I heard everyone yell "bye!" and I knew he was gone. I found my mum and my friends, and although they were all excitedly chatting away, I felt kind of...I don't even know. I was happy, but I wasn't on a high like I was after Perth. Not because it wasn't an amazing night -- it was -- but because it was an intense night. Perhaps not for everyone, but certainly for me. I spent the train ride home talking to one of my closet friends about the night (you know who you are Xo) and wanting to listen to Alibi on a repeat loop (but I forgot my headphones. How horrible). When I got home I sat in silence and thought about his words for a while, until I finally felt ready to write about the night. And now here we are. As I type I'm listening to Everything by Lifehouse because I feel that sums up how I feel perfectly. How can I stand there with him, and not be moved by him? Could you tell me how could it be any better than this?