Soon to be a Minor Motion Picture

I had a strange thought the other day.  I wanted to go into a Hollywood editing room, collect all the scenes from the proverbial cutting room floor, and splice them together to make my own movie. 

Life is like that.  Over the course of my life, I've wandered through courtroom dramas, romantic comedies, hospital stories, wilderness adventures, road-trip movies, romantic comedies, romantic tragedies, even, alas, pornography.  I drank plenty of beers and things in various "Cheers" environments, spent a few appalling seasons with "The Bad News Bears," and I've spent many moons working in a combination "FM" and "WKRP in Cincinnati."

In most movies, you have your protagonist who lives through a situation, then there's a tidy resolution, and the credits roll.  Reality is rarely so neat. 

I've looked at my own life, as well as the lives of my friends–proximal and Interweb–and it's rare that we play one role at a time.  The Tom who had to go to traffic court in "The State of Florida vs. Tom" is only marginally related to the Tom who sat in The Fern Bar, playing the trivia machine, while Deanne the Sales Assistant put a quesadilla in my mouth and her tongue in my ear.  The Tom who won an extra-inning game with a key walk-off single one foggy Little League night is quite different from the Tom who ended up crippled by depression a few years ago.  The Tom who walked home from the bus stop giddy after his first kiss with Kristen K back in 8th grade shares little with the pessimistic Tom who was bitter for years over breaking up with the Devil Bitch. 

And yet they are the same Tom.  I suppose it's analogous to seeing Bogie as suave Rick in "Casablanca" then the decidedly unsuave Charlie in "The African Queen."  Same Humphrey Bogart, different roles, different circumstances.  In real life, we play different parts depending on what life throws our way.  Helena Ekdahl–the grandmother in "Fanny and Alexander–had a wonderful soliloquy about having played different roles during her life: the new bride, the mother, the grieving widow, the grandmother.  Some of my friends are celebrating anniversaries tonight.  Others are falling in love.  Others, still, are heartbroken as they endure breakups, that sad denouement in which there are no true winners.  Some friends are in limbo, unsure of where their relationships are going. 

In the past few months, I've had two close friends die suddenly, and I very nearly joined them.  I've also had moments of pure giddiness and joy.  I've had bouts of fear and depression, and episodes where I've felt amazingly loved, safe  and contented. 

Life isn't a single journey, but splices from various journeys.  In "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," Ferris and pals are in the museum, and Cameron stares at the pointillist painting, ""Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand Jatte". He locks on the image of a little girl with her mother.  The camera zooms in, showing that this beautiful image is just a bunch of paint dots.  Our lives aren't just snapshots for others to examine, but pastiches of various roles we've played. 

Ana-Sofia (aka, Kitten) was just sitting out on the balcony, giving somebody the business.  I went out to see what was annoying her so much.  There was a white bird, skimming in long graceful circles, just above the water.  Periodically, the bird opened its beak, and scratched a line along the lake's surface, hoovering up bugs for dinner.  The quarter-moon was reflecting on the water, and–in a fantastic movie cliche–the bird beaked a line right through the moon's visage.  To the cat, the bird was an affront, a pain-in-the-ass interloper in her quiet night tableau.  To the bird, it was just the search for food–a simple act of survival, the only way it knows to eat.  To me, with a lovely Boston Market dinner digesting happily inside me, it was one of the most beautiful things I've seen.

As characters in our life movies, we all react, participate, and observe, often simultaneously.  Today, I worked, played, read, wrote, ate, slept, laughed.  While I worked, I did two crossword puzzles while half-watching a documentary on the C-5 Galaxy cargo plane.  A few miles away, a crew of Coast Guard aircraft mechanics listened to my show while working on their C-130 Hercules cargo/search plane. 

We do our best with the lines and situations we're given.  I like my movie so far, jumbled menagerie that it is.  When I die someday, I'll be interested to hear the Director's commentary, and to see how all these unrelated dots–flying birds, late night tv shows, Boston Market meatloaf, voicing Florida Orchestra commercials, driving in traffic, petting my cat–emerge as a salient image.  I'm not expecting a blockbuster; I just pray it's better than "Bonfire of the Vanities."

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7 Responses to “Soon to be a Minor Motion Picture”

  1. Wow.Beautifully said, Tom.

  2. Glad I can be 23652000.41 – and CUT!

  3. Splendid in so many ways. Thanks for a wonderful morning read.And for being you, in whatever role you currently occupy.Sweetie send his fondest regards to Kitten…..

  4. Huh. I never quite looked at life as a series of movie clips or paint dots. You're so right though. Great insight Tom!

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