The Scott Shaw Blog

Be Positive

Cog in the Wheel

Cog in the wheel… I always thought that was a weird expression. I mean, what does it actually mean? Sure, we all kinda know what it is supposed to mean; someone who is a supportive element to the overall movement of a whatever… But, that term… I don’t know? Just weird…

It’s not used very much anymore. So, I guess, like so many things life, it will eventually fade away. But, all this being said, when it comes to you/to me, what does it really mean? How do you function in relation to the overall whole?

I think most people don’t really think about this. For most it is more about doing their job, whatever that job may be. Some love their job. Many hate their job. Others are somewhere in between. But, for pretty much everyone (me included) they have hopes and dreams of that greater whatever.

Some act to achieve those dreams. I know I do. I try. Others just hold them in their head. But, the reality of the reality of the reality is, we are all held captive by our circumstance; be that mental, physical, or whatever… And though we can try, and some will achieve, we are all, nonetheless, left to being nothing more than a cog in the wheel.

For me, I have watched this process very closely as I have passed through my life. I’ve met a lot of people who wanted that grand something, but for that whatever reason they could never achieve it; which has left some very bitter. For example, I watched this one old guy for maybe thirty years now. Once upon a time he was a nice, kind, very giving person. I truly thought he had lived a good life. As his life progressed and what he had envisioned for his life never came to materialize, he became this massive liar, telling these grand tales about worldwide espionage; giant tales like you read in a spy novel or see in a film. He was/is not happy having simply been a cog in the wheel. He desired more and when more never materialized he made up his more in his head and he now tells his stories to anyone who will listen.

As someone who has spent a good portion of my life in the film game, I have watched the process of desire verses reality a lot. Like one of the first things I always pose to my students whenever I teach a class, “What is the number one rule of filmmaking?” Answer, “Everybody lies.” …They all have grand tales of what they’ve done, who they’ve done it with, and where they will end up.

I think back to this one dinner I had with a filmmaking friend, my lady, and this guy I had put in a few films as an actor. When we sat down it was like this unbelievable pouring out of bullshit from this guy’s mouth. I mean, it was scary! Dropping names. Saying what he was going to do, who he was going to do it with, and what grand reality was coming his direction. My friend and I played it cool. My lady, on the other, the minute this guy got up to go to the bathroom, she loudly exclaims, “What a bunch of bullshit!” I know he heard her statement as he was just a couple of feet away. I gave her the, shuuuu. But, the guy came back for more.

This all raises the question, if you project a false reality does it make it true? Of course not. But, for someone who may believe you, then they believe you. Thus, in their mind what you have said is true. So???

Again, everybody, well at least most, want to be that grand something. As a filmmaker I have watched and witnessed how important every member of the filmmaking team is on the set. Especially on the larger production films. Everybody has a purpose. And yes, some of the jobs may be less glorious than others—some may be easier than others, but they are all necessary. All of the people that are there are all a cog in the wheel.

Like on the lower budget sets, like my films… You always need to have a Capitan of the Ship. But, your production can either sail or sink by how strong your 1st Mate is. I’ve worked with some people who were a great benefit to the production. I’ve also worked with people who are just the opposite. Me, I’ve been in both positions. When I was the 1st Mate, I put my ego in check, and I did my upmost to make the production as good as it could be. Not everyone is like that, however. Ego and desire play a big part in all things life, especially when they are attached to a person who is in a position of power—however large or small that power may be. But, ego and desire do not get the job done. Doing the job gets the job done. And, if you don’t do it, nothing gets done.

So, what does this tell us? Where does this leave us? It tells us that we are all cogs in the wheel, no matter where we find ourselves in life. We must focus on what we can do—what we can get done and then do it. Ego, desire, and even lying are projected all the time but what do they equal? Not very much. But, if you can find yourself where you are, do what you can do, you can live a proud, good life understanding that you move this ALL reality forward by being the best you, you can be and by doing the best job you can do defined by wherever you find yourself in life.

We all have desires and fantasies to be great and grand. But, you cannot let those things keep you from doing what you actually can do.

Do what you can do. Be what you can be. If you’re just a cog in the wheel; great! At least at the end of your days you’ll know you contributed—you did something as opposed to nothing.