The Way We Get By

The Way We Get By

As the director of The Way We Get By, I thought I should probably get in the game and write a post. Gita briefly introduced our documentary, but I thought I could take it a little more in depth, and give readers a better understanding of what our movie is all about.

This is what we wrote in a recent grant application…

“When your time comes, whether you got a million people around you or there’s nobody…you’re still gonna go.” 84-year-old Bill Knight’s realization about his own inevitable death is at the heart of The Way We Get By, a story about three people at the end of their lives, battling their greatest fears and finding a reason to live. The film examines the lives of three Maine Troop Greeters as they put their politics aside to keep a promise to support the American troops. The story’s three characters must overcome tremendous obstacles– health issues, emotional losses and financial difficulties– to live a life on-call, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Yet, they somehow find the courage to put their own pain and fears aside and head to the airport to greet complete strangers. To date, the Maine Troop Greeters have greeted over 600,000 troops, as 75% of all soldiers and marines heading to and returning home from Iraq, fly through Bangor’s tiny airport.

So that was the fancy way we came up with saying that our film is about death. I think… And if there is one universal theme in our film it is death, the fear of dying, and the fear of dying alone. Not the happiest of topics, but there is hope. I believe there is hope throughout our film. There is hope that the end of your life doesn’t have to be such an awful, scary thing. Just maybe some of the greatest accomplishments in your life can come in your final years. If you find something that drives you and gives you a purpose, and then you stay committed to that thing no matter what the obstacles, I think regardless of your age, you can accomplish something great. You can affect lives around you. The Maine Troop Greeters have affected the lives of families in every state in our country. Simply by getting up each morning…or in most cases in the middle of the night, and driving to the airport to shake hands, offer a snack or a cell phone to call home, they have touched the lives of troops from all over America.

The first time we interviewed one of our characters, Bill Knight– a World War II veteran with 33 years in the military– he said something that really stuck with me…Bill said, “Everybody’s gotta die sometime. Ain’t nobody get outta this world alive yet.” The way he said it just made things very clear to me. We’re all in this together. When it comes to the topic of death and facing death, we’re all in the same boat. Bill’s words just convinced me that watching these characters find purpose late in life, and face the fear of dying with such strength, could be hopeful to us all in some way.


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