Answering The Call

by emily on February 26, 2012

It’s Oscar Sunday.  Like many actors, I have been inspired to dream big by this ceremony.  But today I want to honor a real life hero whose unexpected passing is a true loss for the world.

If you’ve been following the conflict in Syria, you know that the war correspondent Marie Colvin was killed earlier this week.  While the name may, or may not, mean anything to you, it means something to me.

This bad ass chick had a profound effect on me that I will never forget.

Marie Colvin reported from the front lines of the world’s most atrocious conflicts.  Often to gain access to such dangerous areas she had to sneak in – using disguise, smuggler’s routes, bribery, and other tactics.

Her obituary recounts,

“In East Timor in 1999…as Indonesian troops closed in on a United Nations compound in Dili where 1,500 people had taken shelter, the UN wanted to pull out and leave the refugees to their fate. Marie Colvin and two other female journalists remained in place, defying the UN, and the world, to do nothing. Eventually, shamed by the courage of the reporters, Indonesian forces allowed the refugees to leave and the international community stepped in. Marie Colvin’s presence had undoubtedly helped save many hundreds of lives.”

Not to mention the fact that she lost her eye in Sri Lanka when a hand grenade was flung at her.

She opted for the eye patch rather than a glass eye.

I told you she was a bad ass.

As per her usual way, she was one of the last journalists to leave the conflict in Syria.  It was this decision to stay one extra day to finish her story that led to her death.

I got to meet Marie in person in 2005 after a screening of the documentary “Bearing Witness.”  The film, by Barbara Kopple and Marijana Wotton interviews five female war correspondents, Marie Colvin included.  My friend was a dp on the shoot, and invited me to attend a screening.  At the after party, several of the women featured in the film were in attendance.  Including the pirate lady.

Marie Colvin cut a rather intimidating figure.  The eye patch alone, her most visible battle scar, marked her as a fearless warrior.  Clearly this woman was not fucking around.  After seeing “Bearing Witness” and then realizing I was in the same room with this fierce and determined woman, I had to take the opportunity to speak with her.

I’m so glad I did.

Speaking with Marie Colvin had a lasting impact on me.  Many women who rise to the ranks of great influence and power express masculine traits – aggressiveness, assertiveness, ruthlessness.  Sure, Marie Colvin employed many of these traits in her line of work.  But speaking with her in person, I was truly floored by the depth of her femininity.  When I expressed how inspired I was by the documentary and how truly grateful I was for the work she was doing, she was gracious, kind, and humble.  There was a gentleness in her demeanor, and a vulnerability.  She was quietly powerful, engaging and charming.

Yes, she was a bad ass, determined to brave horrors of the world even the most hardened male journalists would not risk.  But I think it is precisely because she was a woman that made her so exceptional at her job.  Her compassion, empathy and vulnerability brought humanity to the atrocities of the world that would otherwise go unnoticed and unchecked, if not for people like Marie Colvin.

I was truly moved by the documentary and by meeting Marie.  In fact, at the time it led me to question what the hell I was doing with my life.  I started to feel stupid, inadequate and utterly useless.  What business did I have pursuing such a frivolous path as the life of an actor?

For a long time I toyed with the idea of going back to school to study journalism, following in the footsteps of Marie and the 4 other war correspondents chronicled in the film.

But here’s the thing.

I now realize that what was so striking about Marie Colvin, in addition to her achievements, is this:

Marie was doing what she loved.

She was a living, breathing, boundary pushing, determined example of a woman who had answered the call.

The basic structure of every story includes a moment when the protagonist is presented with a call.  A call to adventure.  A call to self improvement.  A call to embark on the hero’s journey.  And the hero of that story has two choices – to refuse the call or to answer the call.  Heroes who refuse the call deny repeated opportunities, warnings and ultimately meet a tragic fate.  Heroes who answer the call embark on a journey where they are tested repeatedly to grow, change, overcome and ultimately win.

And to me, the life of Marie Colvin is a shining example of someone completely and utterly answering the call of her soul.

Earlier this week her mother said, “…she was totally, totally committed to what she did and the importance of telling the story and writing it and getting it out to the world, no matter what…She died doing what she loved.”

That means she also lived doing what she loved.

For a long time after my encounter with Marie I misunderstood what I was feeling.  I thought I should change the course of my life to follow in her footsteps.  But I see now that what I was truly seeking was not that.  I am not meant to be a war correspondent.  I just don’t have it in me.  It is not my calling.  What I was seeking was to follow the principle of what she seemed to embody – to fully answer the call of my own soul.

What better way to live than by honoring what you are meant to do?  So that at the end of your life, the people closest to you can undoubtedly say, “She lived doing what she loved.”

Anderson Cooper was one of the last people to speak with Marie as she reported on the Syrian conflict.  After her death, Cooper said,

“People keep saying she’s fearless.  And I don’t think that gives her enough credit.  I think she, like many people who report from war zones, she felt fear but she never allowed fear to stop her from going.  I think that’s what makes her heroic, and that’s what made her so brave.”

I think this is true for all of us.  Regardless of what the path is, whether it be the journey of a war correspondent or the artist following the call to serve through creativity, to be the hero in your own journey means feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Each of us is here to make a difference in our own unique way.  My path is mine alone.  And the more I compare myself to the path of others, the farther away I get from my own truth.  Zig Ziglar says,

“You are the only one who can use your ability. It is an awesome responsibility.”

So do right by your soul and answer the call.  Feel the fear and do it anyway.  Live doing what you love.

Leave a comment.  Who has had a profound impact on your life and why?  What action can you take today to honor them?

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Me February 26, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Who has had a profound impact on your life?
YESHUA the dark skin kinky hair Hebrew MESSIAH!

Why?
He died for the sins of the world including mines and paved the path for me to manifest complete freedom from this fallen slave plantation we call the World.

What action can I take to Honor him?
I can continue to aggressively follow him through his Spirit
and the Holy Scriptures as I continue to be proactive and diligent about manifesting my freedom and the essence of who he is in the earth.

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Kenwa February 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Thank you for acknowledging Marie and her work. These are some of the most important and undervalued beings, the independent journalists of the world. They are one group of the true messengers, striving to get the accurate word and information to the masses, which are unfortunately spoon fed spin doctored distortions of the events in their world. Appreciation and blessings for her, her work and those whom she helped along her journey. Thanks again for saluting her and sharing your story of meeting with her.
Happy Oscars 2012,
Kenwa

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shantala February 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm

absolutely agree…thank you for sharing her story…what an inspiring way to acknowledge following the soul’s journey and true path.

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Maryann February 26, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Beautifully said. Thank you.

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Benson February 26, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Emily!

you consistently inspire! I appreciate your honesty, your passion and your sensitivity! Yes, your point is well received, that life is about doing what you love with joy and integrity! yes, as Anderson Cooper said, the hero is one who feels the fear but does it anyway! why? Because he/she moves out of ego and into the soul level, where everything and anything is possible! Why? because when you embrace the soul level, it’s not about you! It’s about what you can contribute! That’s what you help actors do with your program, you help them SHAMELESSLY CONTRIBUTE their soul gifts as actors with others. Blessings that we all be inspired by Marie to have the courage to life a life DOING WHAT WE LOVE and joyously share our gifts to inspire and uplift others!!!

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Monique Lukens February 26, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Last year, as I was driving home from volunteering at the AERO Theatre, I noticed a patrol car driving side to side with me on the deserted, dark PCH in Malibu. Whomever was in there could clearly see I was a youngish female driving alone. The patrol car then went in back of me, and turned on its lights. I placed my hazard lights on an drove slowly looking for the first well lit, populated area I could find – a store, a gas station, etc.

Finally I found a store, and stopped. I noticed it was closed, but I remained. I told the sheriff I had been looking for a well lit area, and this wasn’t that well lit (as the store was closed), could we move to a more well lit area? He told me if I moved he would place me on the ground and restrain me. 50 min. later, he said he was giving me a correctable ticket, for a light out on the rental car I was driving due to my own car’s transmission having to be replaced. Upon looking at the ticket, it actually also read “Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle.” This man was punishing me with a $504 and 1 point on my driver’s license ticket for looking out for my safety and not wanting to stop in a deserted, dark area of the road. Since last year I have been speaking out about this. The pro tem judge was biased in court, and I am currently in an appeal. I will have a oral argument on Thurs., March 8th at 9am at the downtown LA Courthouse at Room 615, 111 North Hill Street. It’s very important to me to triumph, because the experience I received sends a dangerous message to women and men alike that their safety is not valued. Women have a long history of being targeted victims of sexual assault at fake AND real traffic stops. According to the California State Constitution, Californians all have a right to safety. Also, it’s on the L.A. Sheriff’s website that if you feel you are being followed to pull over into the nearest well lit, populated area.

Support is needed in the courtroom and also by signing this petition:
http://thepetitionsite.com/6/law-enforcement-protocol-for-traffic-stops-durinq-niqht-hours-and-in-desolate-areas

Just as the very brave Marie Colvin stood up for the greater good my fiance and I have risked ourselves financially, emotionally, and our security by speaking up. I was even told by a handful of Malibu residents that I could be hurt or killed if I spoke up in Malibu. I urge you to go to the links of the news articles presented in the website listed.

I am a performer, yet I gave up an entire year to help with what I believe in safety and justice for all. As a performer, I feel a special duty to champion for what is right.

Thank you.

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Monique Lukens February 26, 2012 at 10:11 pm
Mike Shiflett February 26, 2012 at 10:40 pm

….”nothing changes until hearts change”….and yours has…..love you…

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Renata February 26, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Thank you, Emily, for sharing this compelling story and your heart felt insights. I will always be inspired my dear friend Greta, who is no longer on this earthly plane, an artist and Holocaust survivor, who was a true mother and mentor to me. She fought through tremendous odds to do what she loved to do; write poetry and paint. She kept her sense of humor and love of life till the end.
I am currently experiencing one of those “dark night of the Soul” periods in my life and trying to hear the voice of my Soul and what it is truly calling me to bring forth. Not easy but part of my journey.

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Josh Margulies February 27, 2012 at 12:42 am

i have been thinking about this today, emily and i would have to say the person i would like to honour with this is my father, edward r. margulies.

he was born to a wealthy east coast family and decided after getting his medical degree from johns hopkins(which was no small feat) to travel the world and help less fortunate countries. his wanderlust began im sure when he was in switzerland studying medicine . he traveled solo for a while in asia and met my mother who was overseas as a missionary in nepal. i was conceived and born there.

he would have had to have so much drive and courage to make the decision to live in these circumstances at that time (coming from that background) and still to perservere and create medicine and opportunity for less fortunate people.

that is a man who followed his passion and doing what he loved! sadly he passed before his time as well (1941-1992).

he left the legacy of me and i feel i have such big shoes to fill. a lot of the times i feel as emily says – unworthy of pursuit of something so trivial….but deep down i know that it is what i love and part of the master plan is to ENJOY the RIDE –
Aloha
Josh Margulies

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Mary Riitano February 27, 2012 at 1:24 am

So very well said and loaded with passionate purpose. Go you for putting your thoughts about who has inspired you and why. I am inspired by people I see that are living with courage – feeling fear and choosing to act in the face of it. My daughter in her snowboarding – jumping 50 foot jumps is no small feet. My other daughter in her pulling aces in school in a non-traditional field for women in computer science. My friend Cassandra, who after 10 years in corporate world decided to go back to school and pursue a degree. My friend Cynthia, after a difficult divorce, is finding her way back to her career and herself. It’s those people I see in my daily life who inspire others to act with courage. Thank you so much for your thoughts ~ Mary

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Don Griffith February 27, 2012 at 2:48 am

I never knew of Marie Colvin. I heard her name voiced in a radio newscast last week. Reporting her death. It was one of those blips that makes you shake your head because…”what the hell was she doing there in the first place? it’s so unnecessary! this woman shouldn’t have been in such a hot zone. it’s an absolute shame.” I really knew nothing about her at the time and continued my drive to work. Then this blog. I’ve been really keying on the fear thing lately. It attacks and affects you in a lot of ways and in some you don’t realize. Marie had to have faced a ton of fear every day. She thought and worked her way through it, she had to. Her death is yet tragic but it appears that she should have been there. Fear was second nature to fulfilling her love of the duty she felt responsible for. My own personal fear is now less important. It is truly sad that this kind of realization is the result of someone else’s sacrifice. Then there are our fallen military soldiers. She joins them. Thanks Marie
(p.s. “She opted for the eye patch rather than a glass eye.” That’s pure fearless kickass branding genius).

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Kristin February 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Thank you, Emily, for sharing your gifts and this story.
You are an inspiration. Xo- kristin

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Kristin February 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Thank you, Emily, for sharing your gifts and this story about Marie Colvin. Were it not for you, I might have missed knowing about her. You too are a talented journalist.

I have always wished I could sing and play guitar. I believed it was a gift that just wasn’t for me. I focused on my acting instead. Last July, my husband gave me a gift. Recently I have been invited to sing & play at a memorial service, and as a warm-up act for Anne Pasquale’s one woman show, BOB, running thru march 18 th!

Xo- kristin

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Rebecca Morris March 1, 2012 at 5:07 am

Fantastic blog! Heeding the call of my soul has become one of my mantras. And I’m just about to make that bad ass picture my wallpaper. Thank you for sharing. I often feel the same about pursuing acting but, ultimately, I agree with you and know it to be true. We all must be who we truly are and follow our own, different and beautiful paths no matter how daunting.

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Marijana Wotton March 23, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Lovely post, and thank you for writing about my dear friend Marie.

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emily March 23, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Thank YOU for the documentary and all that you do.

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