Lights, Camera, Action!


Lights, Camera, Action!

Here’s a thought. Imagine each of our lives recorded like a real-time show on a platform, say Netflix. But this is meant specifically for one’s own eyes (you probably don’t want everyone to see how you mindlessly stubbed your toe and screamed out in pain for five minutes straight this morning). Give the show a name, preferably with a positive spin; Always Have I Ever? Life Education? Breaking Good? How To Get Away With Life? Light? And this being real life, the show is not punctuated with back-to-back punch lines or overly dramatic scenes every two minutes, but is more like an endless documentary and captures every teeny thing; the mundane day to day activities, the smiles and the frowns, the ordinary conversations, the smallest of small moments.

If this reminds you of The Truman Show, it is indeed along those lines, except in this analogy, you knowingly direct your own show, just as everyone does theirs. You get to choose the genre. You get to change it too. Some episodes are romance, some comedy, some drama, and some even adventure. But there are no retakes, no edits, no deletion of scenes allowed, only one chance at everything.

Every few months, you wait in anticipation as a new season of your show gets released; representing a new version of you. Some seasons are spellbinding, you’re hooked to it. And some seasons are unpleasant, and you just want to get them over with. Sometimes, there’s the arrival of an interesting character you fall in love with. And sometimes an evil character you wish would die at the end of the season (that went a little too far, but you get the drift). But every person adds nuance to the show and develops the character arc of the main protagonist, you.

Within each season, are the small episodes as a window peek into the day to day life. Not each episode is the best. Heck, some episodes are absolute shit and you can’t help but cringe at it, or yourself. And yet, episode by episode, season by season, you understand yourself better, and connect with yourself deeper. You root for yourself in the hardships and chuckle over the embarrassing moments. You shed a tear over the heartbreaks and empathize with the efforts. And when you rewatch your old episodes, you understand where you came from and are hopefully more forgiving in retrospect.

The shows that speak to me the most are those that have a deep character arc. Where you see a drastic change in the protagonist’s personality from season 1 to season 10, understand their quirks and love how much they’ve grown, much like how we would like to in real life (perhaps Louis from Suits or Rachel from Friends rings a bell?)

That’s how I would like my “show” to be. With bountiful change in the character season after season, hopefully for the better. A few laughs here, a few tears there. Good friends and family you wish to see constantly, while accepting that some people will flick in and out as guests for just 2 episodes. But the best parts are when you encounter someone out of the blue and they unexpectedly stick through the seasons, making it all the better.

And with these special people in your life, you choose to share the password for your show. Maybe unlock a few episodes first apprehensively, and then some more, and then all of it; right from the awkward first episodes, to the embarrassing ones you want to fast-forward through, to the ones you’re proud of and replay with joy.

You’re the director, producer, actor and critic of your show; all-in-one. As you live scene after scene, you realize that the most that can be done with the past story, is use it to gain
acceptance and cherish it as memories. Likewise, you have a fair idea of the direction you want your show to take next season. But if you sqander too much time critiquing the past episodes, or meticulously directing episodes way into the future, then how do take out time to act “now”?

To quote from the book, The Courage To Be Disliked, “Life is not made up of lines, but a series of dots, a series of moments called “now”. If you’re under a bright spotlight, you won’t be able to see even the front row.
If you are shining a bright spotlight on here and now, you cannot see the past or the future anymore.” At the end, all we can do is throw on some make-up, bask in the spotlight, and dance the dance in this very moment, with whatever funky moves we’ve got.

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