I spent last night watching a movie I didn’t like. It was visually beautiful, very well acted, subtle, but I found it so hopeless and depressing and frequently boring that I would have walked out on it if I hadn’t been watching at a friend’s house. It was the kind of story that seemed determined to remind the viewer that life is full of suffering. This may have been a revelation to the filmmaker. It was to me once, but it’s not anymore. When it became clear to me about halfway through the film that no one was going to change, and no one was going to learn, and everything was only going to get worse for everyone, I decided I would try to make the best of things. The way I do this is by finding anything about the story I do like. There was a little girl in the story who was pretty charming, so I would appreciate her. There was also an actor whom I really like in it, and who was also playing the film’s most balanced and compassionate and competent character, so I appreciated him whenever he was on screen. This helped a little, but unfortunately for me, not quite enough. Every time I got up a head of appreciative steam, I would start hoping the story would shift, that the protagonist would stop her self-destructive behavior. Every time she didn’t I became frustrated and disappointed all over again.
It reminds me of how I sometimes hold out hope that certain people in my life will change. Maybe this will be the year he quits drinking, or finally starts that book he’s been talking about writing. People do change all the time, but often they spend a long time not changing first, going around and around as if stuck on a carousel of suffering. I have certainly been stuck on that carousel. Round and round I went, thinking, “If it would just stop, I could get off.”
When the movie stopped, I nearly launched myself off the couch. I wasn’t very nice to my host just then. He really liked the film, and I didn’t have the willpower at that moment not to complain about it a little. I just wanted to remember how good it could feel to be alive, that I’m never stuck, and that I’m the one spinning that carousel. I suppose it was actually a very good movie in this way. Look how perfectly it recreated life as we often lead it, and look how effectively it drove me to remember what I learned once but could quickly forget when I find myself watching the world whirl by.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group coaching.
Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence. You can find William at: williamkenower.com