Life Happens

Maybe it's in my imagination, or my own expectations for myself, but I feel pressure sometimes when I write to come up with something completely new. This leads me to ask myself what I'm writing for each time I want to begin. Why would someone want to read this? I still haven't got an airtight answer. There's nothing new here except a glimpse into my head, and who really needs that? So many questions I could ask myself in doubt but, do the questions themselves have a basis? Do I need validation from other for this writing to be satisfactory? 

I think instead of trying to conjure up original ideas, stories, or whatever, one could just write about old ideas — making them new with a fresh point of view. Indeed it would be the more interesting if original ideas popped up with every writer, but still, it isn't absolutely necessary in order to be 'useful' and new writing.

Here's something original: I was on camera almost every day for at least 13 years. Putting that in the background, I can now talk about old ideas I've found that have impacted me and which have that 'new' quality when put in the context of such an original thing as growing up on TV. For a comparison in time as well as attitude, Kylie Jenner and I have been on TV for about the same time. Obviously, her situation is on a bit of a larger scale, and she continues to take part. What's wild to me about kids growing up on TV is that it's a complete experiment. There's no precedent or research on the long term effects of such an experiment, yet we keep gambling. I luckily got out of the cycle. I've always been partial to not doing the show on the basis of such inward questions as, "Why me? Why, among all the billions of people, or millions of kids growing up have I been chosen by the Ultimate to live this life?" 

It takes me quite some time to get through my thoughts on this filming thing because I have for so long expressed myself and been met with an overabundance of people who know who I am, so challenge me, or even ridicule me. Because of this I've learned to some extent to build trapdoors, or rather 'safeties', in my writing. It forces me say things like, "I believe 'x'; however that is not to say 'y'," because if I don't, people will jump on that vulnerability. Why? I wish I knew. To give you a real example, I just said, "I've always been partial to not doing the show," and I can expect to be met with several of the common — let's say grievances. One of which will undoubtedly be, "Sure, you hate the show, but you're rich! Spoiled! You have things." Or something along the lines of my not appreciating filming to their standards, but still accepting and using the benefits of it.

I see no conflict and I'll try to explain it. First, from a bigger and general view, I was 6 years old when we started filming; what were you like at six years old? Fast forward to 18, when I decided after some minor controversy to not sign the contract for the show. That means: I am not contractually obligated to do formal interviews or show up to film anything, although it was still very strongly encouraged. What I'm doing here, is at 18 years old, making a decision when I legally can to not film the rest of my growing up. People then talk to that 18 year old and accuse him of hypocrisy for taking the money earned from ages 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 and 'abandoning' the show. Does that make sense? Their reasoning is that during those ages I was a brat, and resisted filming, so I don't deserve the compensation from that period. Sure, I can see how someone with no knowledge of the process of filming and production can take that as fact. However, filming is the raw material, production is when they create a story. Obviously I was a brat sometimes, which would be abnormal if I wasn't, but Created Character Jacob from Little People Big World was a brat in totality. Not just simply acting bratty, like normal; production redefined his humanhood to Brat. They did the same tricks with my whole family. I posted once that, "the family that is filmed is not my family. They are the Roloff Characters.." People mistook that and said such outrageous things as, "So who is your real mom?!" Obviously what I meant was that the Characters everyone sees on TV are merely the product of a group of folks in LA editing raw footage into a story that sells. Dad: Creative; Mom: Controlling; Zach: Angry; Molly: Smart (okay that one is on point); Jeremy: Adventurous; and Myself: Brat. That's quite a dynamic cast! It's too bad that people take those caricatures as Gospel. Although it really speaks to the talent of an editor that can sculpt such believable personalities. (As an aside, these characterizations are not only incomplete or untruthful but can be harmful as well. To use one isolated example: I remember once seeing my parents go into a room in a restaurant to do a scene, and in the show's storyline it was about the beginning of my parents' separation, although I'm bad at gauging time. In the scene they were supposed to be discussing some serious matter, I don't know, I was just outside the room. I remember though that the scene they were doing was inherently staged and fake. Whatever discussion they were acting out had already happened in real life, so this was at best a rehashing. When they came out though, I saw tears in my mom's eyes and I suddenly realized that this staged 'joke', 'fake' thing was effecting real life in a profound way.)

Second, I see the money I have earned and the vacations I was lucky enough to go on as 'compensatory', for lack of  a better word, for a tainted childhood. I feel disappointed in language here because saying that makes it seem like my childhood as a whole was not enjoyed and just a waste. Not true. I had tons of fun and so many opportunities and friendships, and also anger, frustration... the myriad of emotions. However; money, things, and trips — all material — cannot ultimately compensate for the immaterial experiences of a childhood innocently experienced. This has got me thinking though, what really is an 'innocently experienced' childhood? Which childhood is fair or good, and which is unfair and 'failed'? I suppose the answer to this is one I've already dawned on from a different angle. I say sometimes that my childhood was changed somehow by filming but my childhood was filming. I as ego, that is, as Jacob Roloff, do not have some separate thing that is my childhood against other interferences to that childhood. They are one in the same. This realization is how I've come to let go of all bitterness in recent years towards both my parents and the production company, as if they had robbed me of normalcy. Ah!, again I am realizing something, a parallel.

One of my least favorite things to do while filming was formal interviews. We sat down on a tiny uncomfortable chair, small enough to be hidden so as to not break the fourth wall; "Who set up that chair anyhow?" — this was Reality TV after all. Then the producers asked us silly repetitive questions that no right headed 6-10 year old would have a solid answer to; rather I should have been asking the questions to the adults! But I suppose they probably knew that, further creating a certain shy, relatable character in contrast to the brat that ordinarily wreaked havoc —— cunningly dynamic. Well, one of the hallmark questions I hated was, "What is it like/How do you feel having dwarf parents?" You can see 8 year old me answer this question nearly a dozen times in one interview here:


What on God's green earth did they mean? Did they mean what is it like to exist? Well, give me a couple years, that's a pretty heavy philosophical problem. But of course under the pressure of 10 adults hanging on your every word, something had to be said. Also, I couldn't very much leave until I had answered a certain percentage of questions. What is it like to exist? . . Look at your hand, maybe let it go limp, then retake power. Move it around and just watch it, this is just one idea. You'll never find a good explanation for what life is in words. The more I even utter "what life is" with words the more meaningless it seems! There's no point to the question, nothing would change when you found out what life is because you asking the question are already what life is. You just did it! Thinking and asking and wondering; you answered it! You might just as well ask, "What is it like to breathe?", well. . just let yourself feel it and stop talking! Also defecating, cursing, falling, bleeding, all this is what it's like to exist; positively and negatively, for better or worse. That is, you are the point of this whole thing. Not you John Doe, the real you; the you that was grown out of this universe; the same you that is in Jane Doe and Luna the Dog, Monarch the butterfly and the clouds above. In other words, right now is what its like, what it is, the point. The point. When asked questions of this sort the only viable answer is, literally, to point — wordless. Often when the Buddha or a master from another time was asked, What is the Eternal, or the Buddha?, they would do something simple like point to a mosquito flying past, or maybe kick over a pitcher of water, or pluck a flower from the ground and let it go in the wind. On more than one occasion I've read of masters even resorting to hitting their students on the head and the student walking away enlightened, as if to say, "You dummy, wake up! You are it!" What they do here is answer the Eternal with the temporal because they know that the only constant in life is change. You want to know the eternal? You want to grab it and keep it forever out of smothering love? Too bad. You'd sooner succeed in collecting sand with tweezers! You could of course keep at it, trying to catch the Eternal or attain buddhahood, but you would be going through life with your head pointed down at the sand instead of looking around at the coastal town filled with people, trees shaped and twisted by the wind, waves pouring in as far as the eye can see, mountains invading the sky; life unfolding. That is Eternal.

"You are IT."

So what is it like to have dwarf parents? I, too, respect my parents and have come to regret the immature and brash I hate you's. What was it like to be filmed growing up? Just the same as basketball in a cul-de-sac. How do you find Buddha? Lift up your foot. It's all right there in front of you, it's the biggest trick of them all. You are IT!

I got a little sidetracked but not too bad; essentially, I've been fielding criticism on a large scale for nearly my whole life. When I think back on it, there wasn't much that 'got' to me. I've always had a secret knowing in the back of my mind in exactly who I was. Not in terms of a profession, but in terms of inner understanding. Certainly I have learned more about myself and developed points of view from criticism, but it never broke me down, convincing me I was whatever they thought. Even so, I wouldn't recommend it, and if given the chance with my own kids I wouldn't necessarily choose this path for them, but it has served me well for it's part; after all I am Here Now! I don't really have concrete negative or positive thoughts on my past, but rather a bottomless bag of goodies to reflect on and relate to my interests at present, those being philosophical and religious.

I am so excited for Life Happening!