Sunday, March 28, 2010

Your Life Is Not A Movie

Your life is not a movie.
Sometimes the bad guys will win. You don’t always get the girl at the end and you don’t always end up rich. You’re not the town hero receiving the applause and accolades. You don’t find happiness or romance or rescue the galaxy from a villainous menace.
Sometimes you just break even.
Sometimes you end the day no better than when you started it. You take your lumps and hope the next day will be an improvement.
Sometimes you’ll bleed. Sometimes your heart will break. Sometimes you crawl into bed and wish it were all a nightmare.
But you get out of bed eventually and face the world.
Know why?
Because your life is not a movie.
Somewhere, in the back of your mind, you keep Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer on constant loop: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
My father is always quoting the Serenity Prayer. I first heard it from him when I was a kid, then I discovered it appeared in Kurt Vonnegut’s wonderful novel, “Slaughterhouse Five.”
The sentiment expressed in the Serenity Prayer is timeless and universal. Realizing your limits and abilities and being aware of your life is important to coping.
It all comes back to this:
Your life is not a movie.
Sometimes the girl that got away just gets away. Sometimes she ends up dating a complete asshole. You can’t do anything about that.
Sometimes people you care about die. Their deaths come suddenly and without warning and hit you like a cold shock down your spine.
Other times you get fired from a job you love, or are forced to keep a job you hate.
While you’re alive, you’ll meet good people and bad people, people who love you or hate you and others who are wholly indifferent to your existence.
Not everyone on the planet will recognize or understand your talents. Only a select few might appreciate you and what you do.
Nothing is guaranteed, not your health, family, job or material possessions. You might lose everything tomorrow. You might find yourself homeless and living under a bridge, or you might keep everything you have and not change anything.
Your life is not a movie.
Screenwriters create their scripts with formulas that work because unlike life, the movies have to make sense. Injustice must be punished, the nice boy must end up with the pretty girl and the town underdog must rise up and save the town that shunned him.
Everything is tied up in a neat little bow and packaged to the audience. All is smiles and applause in two hours and everyone goes home happy.
That’s not how it works in real life. Real life is grueling. For most people, it’s an uphill climb, usually with little reward or pleasure. It’s mostly an obstacle course filled with barbed wire, high walls and thick mud. Every day we run that obstacle course and end the day battered, bruised and shaken, yet we do this over and over again.
Nothing comes easy. Only by realizing this do we toughen ourselves and fortify our wills. Only through resolve and experience do we run that course a little bit faster and a little more confident every day.
We become veterans at life. If we really dig down and live life, things may get easier. We may cope better with disasters or misfortunes. We mend up our broken hearts, lick our wounds and patch up our flustered feelings and get back out there.
We don’t exist in the movies.
We exist in real life.

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