One of the best movies from a pure story standpoint that I’ve seen is “The Usual Suspects”. The film takes you on a ride where you’re continuously led down paths for particular reasons. A main reason for the perplexing nature of the film is the doubt surrounding the myth of Keyser Söze. For those unfamiliar with the film, Keyser Söze is a purported crime boss who controls the sale of drugs, weapons, etc. from the shadows of anonymity. At one point he is portrayed as a “spook story” that thieves tell their children, “Rat on your Pop and Keyser Söze will come get you.”
Personally I never heard that version of spook story when I was a kid but I can see its usefulness to some people. The fairy tales and legends that we are told as children vary greatly depending on the desired outcome from our upbringing. Aspirational and cautionary tales alike are used to push the child in particular directions. Keep on trying courtesy of “The Little Engine that Could”. Be prepared by “The Three Little Pigs”. Don’t be sexually promiscuous by “Little Red Riding Hood” (Didn’t know until I talked to a German teacher). These stories were all fashioned to get a result.
The thing about all of these stories is that they are made up. Complete fabrications from the imagination of someone long ago. They’ve been changed, updated, amended, forgotten and remembered. The reason that they still exist is that they were effective through the years. “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” got me to stop going to the nurse’s office every day in 3rd grade. So since stories are effective if they’re told enough and have the desired message, what is the story that you tell yourself about yourself? The Myth of Keyser Söze was that he was an almost superhuman figure who was powerful and ruthless. Before that story could be spread, he had to at least partially tell it to himself.
Now it is your turn. Tell the story of you to yourself. Adapt it, amend it, change it to fit your needs. The endpoint that you desire to have should be attained through some form of work mixed with an optimistic attitude to never give up. The story is out there in the realm of possibility. Now you just need to write it, tell it and live it.
Tell your story!
The life of the single celled organism, the amoeba, must be tough. In order to survive, it needs to change its shape in order to “absorb” its food. It is the ultimate “go-getter” in the microscopic universe. It’s survival is completely predicated on how much and how often it “puts itself out there”. A lazy amoeba would be a dead amoeba.
Living in the world of higher order organisms, we are not as dependent on stretching ourselves in order to survive. In fact over the past century we’ve been rewarded for being small amoebas. Stretching or standing out was discouraged. Get good grades, get into a good college, do your job and follow the rules. Being a small amoeba is not as smart as it used to be. The systems that rewarded the small amoeba are breaking down all over the place and we’re being asked to stretch again.
The opportunities to stretch are all around. The problem is the same as the amoeba “Am I stretching in a direction that will help me survive?” The trial an error method is probably a big part of the amoeba’s life and may be required of you. This is uncomfortable. The old system was predictable, repeatable and safe. Even becoming a big amoeba only required adherence to the system that almost told you where to stretch.
The question is not whether the world will require you to stretch or not. The question is whether you’ll allow yourself to be stretched, pulled apart or reach of your own volition. Do you believe that you are a small amoeba with very defined limits? Or are you consistently able to reach out into the void and find what you need and stretch yourself? You are much less rigid than you think. Most of your limits are not based on DNA but rather WTT (Willingness To Try). The old rule book is slowly being torn apart. You don’t need to go with it. Reach out into the void and see what you get. Then do it again!
Keep the Nucleus Strong!
The Shawshank Redemption is one of my all time favorite movies. Based on how often it is shown on TV, I’m not the only one. SPOILER ALERT! If somehow you’ve not seen this movie that was released in 1994 and don’t want it ruined, STOP READING! (For those that are pressing on) The movie and the book that it is based on recount the multiple decades of Andy Dufresne’s life in Shawshank State Penitentiary as the wrongly convicted murderer of his wife and her lover. There are some differences between the movie and the book but mostly Andy is a methodically planning his escape through a tunnel in his cell wall. He finally achieves his goal after years of slow chiseling and eventually crawling through a shit-filled pipe. Shawshank was not meant to hold Andy Dufresne because he was free where it counted most, in his mind.
While most of us can’t imagine living Andy’s life in Shawshank, we can definitely imagine the way that we wish our life was. We wish that things were easier, less busy, more money, fewer problems and more “perfect”. The problem with the image of perfect is that it is a prison of its own. That image exists in a completely fictitious world where things just fall into place magically. While it may be a nice diversion, it is not anything resembling a game plan.
So if you want to break free from the prison of that perfect image and move to real freedom, you may need to follow the path of Andy Dufresne. Chisel away at that dream that you have, possibly for years. Take joy discarding the small pieces of rubble that you’ve chipped away from the wall in front of you. Just be ready when you finally feel that you’ve broken through, there could still be 500 yards of shit for you to crawl through. Expecting that type of a path will make your real journey to your dream life seem like a walk in the park!
Break out the rock hammer!
In most cases when a movie is made from a book, the general consensus is that the book is better. There are many reasons for this but the main one is that a book uses words that the reader must employ to create pictures in his mind. Books may be written in black and white but they exist in the world of imagination. The writer’s words are a map that reader uses to create a world without compromise. I love this medium because of its limitations being based only on the mind of the reader.
As I have mentioned before, I am also a huge movie guy. The experience is completely different because it happens in “real” time. The emotions caused by the combination of director, actors, scenery and etc. are much closer to the surface. Everyone in the room can have a simultaneous reaction to the sights and sounds on display. Movies inch closer toward reality because we are visual creatures.
The disappointment of the adapted book comes from expectation and compromise. The viewer wants to see the pictures from their head come to life on the screen. Movies have several limitations which cause compromises. If the viewer goes in with the expectation that the movie will be different, it leads to less disappointment and an appreciation for each in their own right. In all honesty they are two very different things.
Now the point.
We all have this war of Book vs. Movie going on inside of us. The book is our thoughts. The way that we envision that our life will go. The movie is the reality of how things actually go. In this situation, the same factors cause most of the upset: expectation and compromise. Your life will almost never match your mental picture perfectly. As soon as you add in other actors and their interpretations of the script, the movie is bound to stray. Finding your own balance of expectation and compromise is the way to be satisfied with the movie version of your mental book