A lot of my students are aware that I have a wide and varied life and that in addition to many other roles, I’m also a film and television producer. When my latest film The Pharmacist was licenced for broadcast by Superchannel in Canada, it got me thinking about movies, and that intersected with me seeing this meme, and that has lead us to this blog:
Imagine that your life is an improvised play. It is entirely unrehearsed and it is performed live in front of everyone you know. Imagine that this ninety minute play is your ninety year lifetime. You can easily see that its improvised nature combined with your desire to perform well for your friends will certainly lead you to occasionally blow at least a line or two, or maybe miss a cue or an opportunity.
Those “mistakes” feel loud and gigantic when you first make them. But by the time you’ve been on stage a while you’ve seen everyone make one, and over time you simply come to accept that those sorts of things are simply a by-product of the improvised nature of the work. This is the advantage of aging–if we’re paying attention. But just because you miss a line here or there, or just because one aspect of the plot doesn’t pan out as hoped, that doesn’t mean it (your life-play) still can’t be great. It’s important to remember that many masterpieces include tragedy.
No play is perfect. Every playwright would love a second pass at life so they could erase their mistakes. But this is live. This is improv. You just do the best you can. Sometimes the people up there on stage with you just suck and you can’t turn it into anything good no matter what you do. Other times it will be your co-performers that will be carrying your dead weight. But the main point is that these smaller shifts don’t matter in the larger context. What matters is, in the end, will you be glad you lived your own life? Will you have enjoyed performing it? Because it is a choice. So if you don’t really like it, then change your part. This is improv. You can do anything.
Don’t worry about individual scenes or shots. As long as the story of your life unfolds in a rich and meaningful way, then it doesn’t matter how you’re doing at any given moment in the play. Whether you die a hero or a scoundrel, the naming of it won’t make your life. You living it is what does that. So pay attention. Be awake. Life is a long road that is traveled quickly. Be conscious and enjoy the trip. Because that is the only real way to make a life beautiful.
Now go start making the choices that will lead you in the direction you want to go. It’s that easy. And you’re allowed to bunny-hop backwards every now and then. But at least be pointed toward happiness. And you will have a wonderful day.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.