Although the ABC series, Flash Forward, was officially canceled after only one season, I will still contend that it was a fascinating show for what it said about the human condition. For those who haven’t seen it, the main premise is that a group of criminals—with a Pinky and the Brain style penchant for taking over the world—manipulate a major scientific experiment in an attempt to make all of humanity black out for two minutes and sixteen seconds. In that time, everyone sees and feels as though they are living out a moment from their future. Once they start to compare their visions, it seems that everyone has simultaneously seen the exact same moment in time: April 29, 2010—exactly six months from their present date.
Most have visions that are intense and feel incredibly real. A lesbian FBI agent who never wanted children sees herself being pregnant and then spends the rest of the show trying to get pregnant because she feels a massive sense of love and attachment to that baby who isn’t even born yet and probably never would have been born had she not seen it in her flash forward.
A grieving father risks everything to find his daughter who was serving her country in Afghanistan and was previously pronounced dead. In his vision, she is alive and he knows with the same sense of conviction and certainty that she is out there and that it is his destiny to rescue her.
Others are frightened by their visions and try against all odds to keep them from happening. A woman sees herself cheating on her husband. A man sees absolutely nothing and realizes it is because he isn’t going to be alive in six months. What I love about Flash Forward isn’t just the drama that this type of plot naturally provides, but also the way it so clearly demonstrates how a thought, a vision, a dream can carry us all. These fictional characters were shaken to the core by their flash forward experiences. The knowledge of what their lives would be like in the future changed everything for them. It affected the decisions they made in the present, the way they prioritized their lives, and how they perceived their very sense of reality. Some felt helpless against an overwhelming sense of fate, while others fought desperately to make their visions come true. Even in the absence of any tangible evidence that these futures might actually occur, they were all driven by the gripping, captivating feeling that it could.
Which is really what guides us all, isn’t it? The conviction that, If you build it, they will come? In many ways, I too, am feeling carried and led by my imagined vision of what life will be like in New York. As most of you already know, I am moving there at the end of the summer and it has been quite an interesting journey towards making this decision. Like all things lately, it has stemmed from my desire to write.
Back in February, I was perusing Elizabeth Gilbert’s website and reading her advice to aspiring writers. In it, she mentions that after she graduated college, she briefly considered applying to get an MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing; yet, she didn’t because she was never convinced that sitting in a classroom and talking about writing would actually help her launch the career she always wanted. Instead, she opted for real world experiences and spent a few years traveling around the country, taking random jobs, meeting new people, and writing about everything she learned and saw. In essence, she created her very own MFA program, and it got me thinking: if I were to create my own MFA program, what would it look like?
I knew almost immediately that it would look like moving to New York. It would look like immersing myself in the writing and publishing industry, applying for freelance writing jobs, interning at a publishing house, or getting an entry-level position as an Editorial Assistant. It would look like going to author readings at bookstores and coffeehouses, and maybe even taking a few classes at the Gotham Writer’s Workshop so that I could get some solid feedback on improving my craft.
Back in February, I wasn’t certain that any of this was even remotely possible. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to leave my friends and family in sunny Southern California and move to a place that would ask me to endure long winters and ride the subway and live in a room that is quite literally and actually a shoebox. But as the weeks and months have passed, my visions of New York have molded themselves into a dream that I simply cannot shake. Unlike my fictional counterparts in Flash Forward, this vision is rather murky and blurry in comparison. I have absolutely no clue who my new roommates will be, what neighborhood I’ll be living in, or where I will ultimately find a job. All of it still remains to be seen; yet, I am steadfastly marching towards it in a simple act of faith.
(And I’ll be blogging about it along the way, so stay tuned!)