What Would the Movie Reel of Your Life Show?

How many movies have you watched over the years where there was a scene in which someone was sitting around during a very sentimental moment watching homemade movie reels? The first film that comes to mind is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Clark Griswold's family Christmas is far from going according to plan, only to then accidentally lock himself in the attic while the entire family goes out Christmas shopping. It's at this point that he stumbles upon some old homemade movie reels from past holidays, bringing happiness during a moment of chaos. It's times like this that I like to put myself in the shoes of someone like Clark and think about what kind of reel I would want to watch, and have others watch, of a particular momentous time in my life.

Last year I wrote a series that I titled: "Write Your Own Story". In the series, I shared some of the elements of stories and mused on the type of story that I wanted to write with my own life. I discussed beginnings and endings, plot, and conflict, while pulling in quotes from Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. In wanting to write a better story for my own life, I challenged readers to think about how they can write a better story for their own life.

This is my story. Maybe you’re a character in it, but it’s still my story and I’m the only one who lives it. Don’t let anyone tell you that there’s a certain way of seeing or experiencing the world. Just as good stories help us make sense of the world and always stick with us, this one too, will stick with me. The great, legendary stories, never truly end, but are replayed in our mind. They are the ones that are told around camp fires. The ones that grandchildren will come up to you and say: “Grandpa, tell us that one story again.”

Don't you just hate watching movies sometimes with people who have seen it already. Maybe you've had this happen before, where you're having a movie night at your home and you have to jump up real quick to refill the popcorn bowl when Johnny Movie Buff yells out: "Hurry back! We're coming up on the part when insert climatic scene involving a cliff, gun, a fighter jet, or a couple about to make out for the first time." And then that just kills the mood because nobody else has seen the movie and they were watching in such eager anticipation. But that never happens during an anti-climatic scene. "Hurry back! We're coming up on the scene where Joe drives to work, makes 50 cold calls, and then leaves work 10 minutes earlier than usual."

We want a life like the movies. The Avett Brothers went as far as writing a song entitled Love Like the Movies. We want our hearts to race, our adrenaline to pump, and to live an adventurous and mysterious life. We want to win the game, save the girl, and be the hero. These feelings are at their height during and immediately after a movie, but they often become stagnant shortly after. We often don't act on these heightened feelings and simply return to the norm upon walking back into our home or office. We continue our daily routine of taking the same route to work, traveling to the same places, and eating at the same restaurants.

I'm not sure if there's been a season of my life that has been so reflective. I turn 30 in 11 months, I'm coming up on living in San Francisco for an entire year, it's been a year since returning from traveling long term, and I'm coming up on two years since I left the life of complacency I had in the Carolinas. Being a philosopher then, you can imagine that this is a reflective time for me. But it's not one of those "woe is me" times of reflections. It's one of those "my cup runneth over" types of reflections. Like I want time to just come to almost a standstill so I can grab some popcorn, a soda, and Junior Mints and take it all in because I don't know how long it'll last. Yet I want to learn from it and make sure I'm watching it from beginning to end, so that when those seasons of conflict no doubt come, I'll know how to be equipped to face it while using it as opportunity to better myself and others just as I've done during this season of my life.

If there was a season of my life that I wanted to be my movie reel, one that I would be proud of and that I would want the world to see, this season of life would be it. It's not even tied to accomplishments, money, or material gain. I think there are rare moments in life when a person is hitting on all cylinders in relationships, career, and personal happiness. I've often found that it's a balance scale where one often outweighs the rest, with perfect balance always elusive. Yet somehow, I seem to have found this place in life where I'm finding balance across my relationships, career, and personal happiness. Just thinking about it makes me emotional, and this coming from a guy who went years without shedding a tear. It's a place in life I've never been and I don't know how long I'll be here. But if there's a moment in my life that I wish could be captured on film that shows my absolute best, this is it.

What would you want want the movie reel of your life to show?