Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The ending is the beginning

I would write a novel. I would just sit down, research and write an entire novel even if it took me a year. Maybe it would never find the light of day. Maybe it would be published and sit in the dollar book section at Rite Aid but it would be completed. I couldn't say it would be a best seller or a 300 page dust collector on a shelf. It could be both! But, it would be finished and I'd always have that. At the end of my life the prosecutor could pull up my book and say "look here, this is real crap. We can't let this guy move on. Did you read this thing? Before I read his book I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt, but now..." The judge would nod in agreement, "I read it and wish I could black out from that event myself. Guilty!" The defense attorney would nod and look over at me, "Yeah before the book I thought we had a chance here. I had no idea they could find a copy." And while I sat my days away in my purgatory jail cell of fear I could recount all the reasons they were wrong and write my next one. I just need to break out of this cell first. Anyone have rock hammer and a Megan Fox poster?

If you could do whatever you wanted without any fears what would you do? Where would you go? Would it make a difference if all those past failures, fears, doubters were completely blacked out of your mind?

We all have ready made excuses for not trying new things too. We can just pull the list out of our pocket and read it off to fit the appropriate moment. Um, too much money? Afraid of heights? Not my thing? She isn't that hot? I'd probably hate it? Not after last time...etc etc. We've kept this list since we grew out from our adventurous childhood and call it maturity and growth. When most of the time it is just reactionary acquired fear. It may have been a friend, neighbor, or parent, but someone said we couldn't do it for this or that reason and it became our reason. It will be our reason until we tell our friend, neighbor, child...then it will be theirs. Our own limitations become a hereditary trait.

I think fear of loss keeps us from pursuing a lot of our dreams. What if I lose the house, boat, car, spouse, job, etc? That would be worse than if I never had it at all. At least if I didn't have it in the first place I wouldn't know what it felt like to lose it. We see the stories of the billionaires who have everything and are still unhappy. We realize then that the castle and yacht is not the prize. Possessions are never going to satiate. It's like trying to drink beer in the desert. Sure maybe a corona sounds delicious when we are thirsty but we are dying of thirst here. We drink that cold refreshing corona and then we need another! Possessions won't satiate your thirst because you will just need more of them. Someone will always have one better, newer, more technologically advanced. It's the feelings you get from the possessions; the achievement, excitement, comfort, that are more lasting.

Staying on the subject of movies, another great one is Defending Your Life. It was a movie about a man who at the end of his life had to go to court and in front of a judge had to defend how he lived his life. They showed scenes of events in his life, moments that were heroic, and many moments that were not, and he had to justify why he made those decisions. The prosecutor trying him was trying to prove that he made poor choices and lived his life in fear. The defense attorney tried to show that his decisions while not always wise were not fear-based but heroic. The more days they assigned to work on the case the more of your life they had to see..the more likely you were in trouble. This makes me wonder how many days they would need to see of my life. Right now I would say a lot. I'm sure I haven't always made the best decisions, though I know I've conquered a lot of fears. I jumped out of an airplane. I hiked alone in the Grand Canyon. I quit my job with no safety net and went to Europe. These are fearless decisions. I also haven't written my novel, screenplay, or done anything with a talent for writing I've had since childhood for fear of rejection. For many years I'd see a beautiful girl and wouldn't dare approach her for those same reasons. I'm not sure I want to face that judge yet or that prosecutor. Give me a few more years to build my case!

If we could choose to black out certain parts of our life it would be like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. We would just erase the memories completely. That seems pretty harsh and I think, as in the movie, we would regret that decision. If only because we would walk around with a feeling of deja vu wherever we went. We'd lose that pain which really is the stuff that makes us grow as a person. I don't think we learn as much or grow as much when we are happy and successful. I think it takes pain and failure for the good growth. Or maybe that is just what miserable people tell themselves to feel better. Yet even the most successful people in history had to fail and fail miserably before they achieved true success. It took Thomas Edison hundreds of attempts to create the light bulb. Yet history doesn't look at Edison as some huge failure who only succeeded once in creating the light bulb. He invented the light bulb. Abraham Lincoln filed bankruptcy. He was a complete disaster as a business owner. But how many people knew that? We know him as one of our greatest (if not the greatest) president ever. How about Michael Jordan? He lost in the NBA playoffs to the Detroit Pistons three years in a row. Did he run off and join forces with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson to form a super team in Miami? No, he got more resolve and won six NBA titles. No one remembers the losses. We just remember him as the greatest player of all-time.

One of my favorite movies is Memento. The guy has short-term memory loss. Every five minutes or so he forgets everything all over again. He ends up tattooing everything all over his body to remember clues to a crime he is solving and everybody he's met. Last night I watched The Hangover again. These guys just got roofied and forgot their crazy bachelor party night and spent the next day piecing it together. No tattoos, just a missing tooth, a tiger, and a naked Japanese man with a tire iron. I'm sure we've all had moments in our life we wished we could black out from. Whether it was something painful or just plain embarrassing, we would be better off having no recollection of it except maybe some small piece of evidence..that we burn. Well in honor of those great movies I'm going to write a blog backwards today. Or as backwards as you can write a blog, last paragraph will be the first so I guess to really make sense of it you need to start at the bottom and read up, of course that is no fun so hopefully you read the whole thing chronologically and are just as confused as that poor dude in Memento minus the full body tattoos.

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