Creating a Blockbuster Life

As November approaches and the political rhetoric and social media frenzy amps up, are you feeling as weary as I am? I think of myself as a pretty positive person, yet I am having a tough time remaining that way surrounded by the many prophets of doom and gloom.

So this Sunday morning, in the lazy lavender hours of dawn, as I snuggled with my youngest grandchild (who had spent the night), I pondered life’s many blessings, and decided to share a few snippets of those morning musings and hopefully raise your mood.

I am old enough to remember pre-digital movie theaters wherein noisy machines up in a elevated booth would clickety-clack and pass perforated film in front of a bright bulb so that images could be projected onto the screen at the front of the theater. Sometimes the images were clear, other times the scene was blurred and the projecting lens would need to be adjusted. Occasionally, the sprockets would fail and the bright light would burn right through the fragile celluloid. Sadly, this malfunction would cause vociferous protests in the audience.

Those memories lead me to analogies between that process and how our brains function. Some ideas we project to others are crystal clear, others are blurry because of some difficulty with our lenses and call for adjustments on our part. When we are not functioning at peak performance, some ideas get stuck, we can’t move forward and the jam can cause irreparable damage.

In a similar vein, our lives are much like a long movie that has been produced throughout our length of days. Sometimes the script we have been given has some challenges. As the directors, we end up shooting some scenes over and over again, as we endeavor to achieve a certain emotional outcome. On occasion the others we work with are contrary and even opposed to our artistic vision. We often let our own pride get in the way of asking help of more experienced people. Some events “end up on the cutting room floor,” and are forgotten, because we deem them superfluous or in conflict with the story we are weaving. Ultimately, the “movie” we release is based upon the screenplay we’ve been given, our perseverance, our willingness to seek out the help of other talented people, and our ability to let go of unnecessary scenes.

What does this have to do with the current political climate and the divisions we are experiencing in the United States? I think some of us approach life and endeavor to tell our story like Wes Anderson, others like Kathryn Bigelow, still others like Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, or Penny Marshall. Our childhood, teen and adult experiences, our education, socio-economic strata and religious upbringing, form the physical, emotional, and psychological foundations for the content (or screenplay) we have been given. If we are fortunate, diligent, and have people who believe in us, we are more likely to project a positive influential message to others. While hereditary deficits, brutality, misfortune, and abandonment may spur some to greatness, these “production hurdles,” more often, create a cycle of hopelessness and self-centeredness that enrich no one.

We need to keep in mind that some of us are good at producing “summer block busters,” some excel at romantic-comedies, others show skills with docudramas, animated classics, epic histories, or independent films. Each director’s deepest desire is to somehow impact society by influencing the thoughts and actions of others. The best movies are those that uplift the audience and inspire greater happiness, energy, compassion, or social responsibility.

Have you ever noticed how good directors compliment the works of their colleagues? Likewise, I feel our world is a richer place when we focus on the good in each person and refuse to elevate ourselves at others’ expense. Difficulties develop when inflated egos interfere, when one no longer empathizes with or appreciates the complexity of each person’s endeavors and becomes convinced that his/her own “movie” is the only one that deserves public attention.

My promise to myself, and to each of you, is that I will always strive to produce and project a message that promotes confidence, hope, compassion, understanding, and love. I pray it may brighten your day, encourage your own endeavors and help you to make your own movie Oscar-worthy!

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