Sofia Wellman – Personal Growth Teacher
I struggled with life. What seemed to make everyone else content did nothing for me. Left on my own to figure out life, I was irreverent to authority. Since I was raised in the Greek Orthodox religion where I didn’t understand the language, I barely made it through Catholic school, where the language was too real and the rules too rigid. The chaos I caused became my distraction from feeling out of place in the world. I wasn’t kicked out of school, either because the educators felt sorry for my mother, who was raising three daughters on her own, or because the dean of girls saw what I could not see in myself. I had no clue that my mischief in school reflected my being troubled at my core.
My worthless solution appeared validated, however, because it was one that echoed in the world. I believed that if you had money, all else would follow, such as freedom, happiness, love, ease, and so on. At the pinnacle of a successful career, however, I left a seven-figure income to figure out what life was about. Plagued by catastrophic experiences that finally got my attention, I had a haunting awareness that if I didn’t change, I wouldn’t be alive much longer. Each experience was a brush with mortality. I was diagnosed with cancer, attacked by a Rottweiler, and barely missed the bullets of a disgruntled man.
As I muddled through a myriad of spiritual teachings and “feel-better remedies,” I finally discovered the truth. We cannot learn the meaning of life by living in light and love. We must follow our messy and disharmonious experiences back to the patterns that instigate a difficult emotional state. Depression, loneliness, anxiety, irritation, and anger are just a few of the emotional switches that ignite our addictions and inner conflicts that manifest outwardly as disharmonious experiences. Life has to be messy for us to understand ourselves. Until we understand who we are, life is meaningless. The emptiness we avoid is symptomatic of the meaninglessness we live. Becoming busy and overburdened is not the antidote. Change is difficult, and it doesn’t happen through awareness alone. I wrote If the Shoe Fits, Go Barefoot as a guide to help others understand life and themselves. Until we know who we are, meaning is fleeting.
The book is not a memoir; it is a tool built from a lifetime of searching. It is written for you to personalize your own unique search for meaning by uncovering your individual expression, found only from within.
When I set out to make a documentary on death, I was motivated by my desire to learn about the unspoken part of life. Until then, I had not lost anyone close to me through death. I did not know then that I was going to be the first person the movie would help.
We don’t give death enough attention, and when a loss occurs, we are without resources or abilities to contain the intense feelings that follow. With every passing year, I knew my good fortune would run its course and inevitably someone I loved would die. The thought terrified me. My journey making the film Death as Life was to bring death out of the closet, not as a way for people to face their fear of death, but as a way for us to embrace death as a part of life, so we have nothing to fear.
We see movies all the time that feature death, but death out there is different from the death that happens to us, our child, our spouse, our sister, our brother, our mother, our father, and so on. While I can’t promise you death will never come to call, I can promise that watching the film will provide a solace to those living with loss.
I knew I was onto something when in the midst of making Death as Life, I was the one who found solace in its wisdom when I lost two of my closest friends and my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Even if you have not personally met death yet, the film will still inspire you. Death wants to be noticed. When we ignore its existence and manage to push it out of our conscious thought, it becomes a fear that requires a tremendous amount of the energy to push away—energy lost for living.
Personal Growth Teacher Sofia A. Wellman currently resides in Atlanta.