Sunday, October 01, 2006

Your Life as a Movie

In chapter 4 of The Sacred Romance, the authors talk about our need for a story. They say:

Life is not a list of propositions, it is a series of dramatic scenes. As Eugene Peterson said, "We live in narrative, we live in story. Existence has a story shape to it. We have a beginning and end, we have a plot, we have characters." Story is the language of the heart. Our souls speak not in the naked facts of mathematics or the abstract propostions of systematic theology; they speak the images and emotions of story.

And Daniel Taylor, in his book, The Healing Power of Stories, says "You are your stories. You are the product of all the stories you have heard and lived... They shape how you see yourself, the world, and your place in it."

Here are my questions:

If your life could become a great story, if you could live in one of your favorite movies, which would you choose? Why?

How close to your present life does that movie feel? Do you think you'll ever get there? Is there another movie your life does feel like right now?

Imagine your life really was a movie...

Who are the characters? What role are you playing? How do you see your part? What Hollywood actor or actress would you cast to play your part?

What is the plot of your life's movie? What is it about? Is it a tragedy, a comedy, an adventure, a sports movie, a mystery, etc.?

I look forward to hearing your answers!



Jen said...

If my life could be a movie I would want it to be "The Motorcycle Diaries" and not because of the part of the motorcycle. The story doesn't begin to get interesting until the bike gets sold. It is really a better story if you don't know who the story is really based on the life of. These two men with a revolutionary spirit set off on their motorcycle across S. America and after the bike dies they are walking and experience life and the stories of the people they interact with. They resonate with the oppressed Indian peoples and with a colony of lepers. I love the movie because it is my desire to have a heart for people and social justice like they portrayed Ernesto Guevara. As far as a movie that I feel like more closely portrays who I am... I'll have to think on that one for a while.

Jen said...

Alright, got it, my life really is a lot like the movie "Saved." I can identify with several of the characters. For instance, I'm like Mary and sometime feel like I have something to hide. I'm like Patrick, the new kid, not a cookie cutter of the others, and also he is the missionary and has a Vespa. I'm like Cassandra because sometimes I'm able to read people because I've been down that road, I'm able to love and understand in a way some others never could. I'm like Hillary because I go through spells of trying to do more to feel somehow worthy of God's love, I wonder why those who have sinned in ways that affect my life and my friends' lives don't seem to be suffering. And also I'm afraid of being found out as a fake in the end. All the characters spent times of crying out or reflection, wondering if this is how it's supposed to be?
Now for a couple quotes, "Why would God make us all so different if he wanted us all to be the same?" and in response to what would Jesus do "...we'll be trying to figure it out...together."
If my life really were a movie, I would begin now, when I moved here a couple months ago and would involve the people I'm getting to know in the missions program. The movie would be about 5 of us sitting around our favorite drinks telling our stories while the movie would begin to reenact those key points in our histories that have brought us together to this precise moment of deciding to pursue missions. So I guess this would be a blend of tragedy, comedy, drama, and adventure.
All right, I think I've written enough now.

Mike Clawson said...

Great thoughts Jen... I like how you seem to view your life's story as a journey with friends.

I too really resonate with Saved, though in a less symbolic sense than you've mentioned. I resonate with it because I lived it, or something like it, growing up in the evangelical subculture and eventually finding that it couldn't answer all my questions or handle all my struggles.


gerbmom said...

Ok - I was trying to think of a really cool movie that would sound really awesome - yeah. Forget it. What occurred to me, and hasn't let go, is the movie Mona Lisa Smile. I love this movie. While the main thrust of the movie obviously deals with feminism, I see in it a broader meaning about standing up for what you believe in and trying to change the world one person as a time. It's about being the person to awaken another to a new way of looking at things, being a guide in a new and exciting journey.
Katherine Ann Watson is a progressive art history teacher, who arrives at conservative 50's Wellesley wanting to share her passion, her way of looking at life with her students. She is a freethinking art professor who desperately wants her students to learn to think outside the box. As she begins to teach on her first day she quickly realizes that all of her students have already studied the textbook from cover to cover, and can answer any question that might arise from the class's current syllabus. They know the answers - the answers according to the book. All there is to know. The accepted answers. The curriculum and Watson's superiors are strict in what they want to teach about art, but Watson veers towards teaching all the things the textbook never will; the feelings, the emotions, the underlying meanings in symbols and art. And how art is perceived then as opposed to when it was created. How meanings change and modern knowledge distorts.
The status quo must be challenged. Of course, her superiors are unhappy with her course, and warn her of the severe consequences of not following the Wellesley philosophy. Watson would rather teach these women to think instead of just teaching them what they should think. She wanted to change the lives of these girls in a time where women were expected to be housewives and nothing more. Good girls were good because of the things they did, what they believed and because they followed the status quo without question. Watson wanted better for her students. So she soldiers on, and despite how sure of she may be of her teaching methods, you also sense a nervousness in her... a feeling of uncertainty as to whether her methods of getting the message across to the students will even work. And of course, by being true to her beliefs she finds herself in major trouble. She must face the conservative forces in the college and decide whether she can bend her values and beliefs in order to stay on at the college.
How does this apply to me? What do I see in it? My passion for helping people see things upside down. To realize there are other ways to look at things. That the list of rules and reasons isn't always right. That I need to shake up the Status Quo. And like Watson, there is a nervousness in me - an uncertainty, but still I need to be true to my beliefs and to the things God is asking me to do. It won't be easy - it hasn't been. Witness the last year in my life. But I want to be a life changer, live passionately. Outside the box. Open greater worlds and help people see that God is vastly greater then they can even imagine. And it's not easy.
Some of Watson's students never came around. But many, many did. They embraced her and her philosophies and stood ready to rock the world - at least the small world of Wellesley. Even her greatest antagonist eventually saw what she was getting at, and her world began to become bigger than she could imagine. She left her fear behind, and the judgments of others, and went out to change her lives and the lives of others also.
So yeah, that's my movie..... It kind of incorporates where I am, as well as where I want to be. Two for one. :)

gerbmom said...

oh - my life's movie? Hmmmm - not so exciting, but probably a "Lifetime movie." You know, one step forward and two steps back, everything that can go wrong probably will, with a few touching moments thrown in for good measure. A bit of laughter, many tears,lots of lessons learned, good friends, family and food. And somehow, like the energizer bunny we keep going, and going and going with great faith that it will work out in the end.

JROB1972 said...

I've been thinking some about this and would have to say if I could be part of a favorite movie I would put myself in the Shawshank Redemption. I admire Andy Dufresne, the main character who finds himself in prison for murder. While Andy finds himself surrounded by the corruption and immorality of prison life, he never gives up hope of finding a better place. His willingness to stand out, to be different than those around him, and not compromize his values, is far more difficult that taking the easy road and merely doing what everyone else is doing to fit in. Even when Tommy is killed, taking with him the evidence which could release Andy, fulfilling his dream of being a free man again, he does not lose hope. Each day for years he chissles away at the wall in his cell, painstakinly opening a hole large enough for him to finally escape. Andy also displays great love for others, when he escapes, he does not take all of the money for himself; rather, he leaves directions for red as to where he can find some money so that Red can join Andy in his newlhy found paridise.

So, Andy Dufresne is the person I would like to be. Integrity to his level is rare, and I feel that I certainly fall short. While I try to do the right thing, to speak up for what is right vs. what is profitalbe or easy, I find moments in life where I let ethical standards slide for the purpose of conflict avoidance or for self preservation.

I'm still giving some thought as to what the movie of my life would actually look like and will post again later in the week. I do think however, that my part would be played by that guy who plays Doug Heffernan in the Kink of Queens television show. I pick him because he comes across as someone who is funny, who cares for those around him, but also, no matter how hard he tries to change his ways he falls back into old habits.

A Simple Desultory Phillipic said...

Alright, if my life could be like a movie, I'd like it to be like The Royal Tenenbaums. This is my favorite movie, and it really speaks to me about the way life is. Family is the most important thing, even though thats usually where you find your most bizarre relationships. And I suppose it's also important to know it's never too late for us to make peace with each other and have redemption.

My life really isn't very much like The Royal Tenenbaums, I really don't have any screwed up feuds with anyone, I am very close to my wacky family. I hope that I don't get to the point they start the movie out at, estranged and at some point of physiopsychopathology.

My lifesometimes feels like Annie Hall and I'm Woody Allen. I'm a klutz at life, love, and making decisions. All three impact each other, and I tend to get neurotic as they cause each others' dominoes to fall.

I suppose the characters in my movie would be would be me, of course. Then my roommates and my cousins, the people I'm closest too. There would probably be a scene or three with you folks from church. I'm pretty damn close to you guys too, You're like a second family to me, and if you know me, you know how devtoted to my family I am.

The genre would most definitely be comedy, I find a lot of humor in my life and the people I know. But there would definitely be a solid plot behind it, and there would be some drama. A lot like Garden State... or The Royal Tenenbaums, The Squid and The Whale, I Heart Huckabees, movies like that. Dramadies.

The problem is I would have no idea who to cast. I suppose I can cast the people I know, but then what kind of movie is that? thats me, living. Kinda funny, huh? My life already is the movie. It's pretty boring at times, but overall, between my family and my friends, I couldn't ask for a better cast.

Oh, and to not end on such a sappy note, Screw Hippies.

Jen said...

Hey, I'd really appreciate it if nobody would take any unnecessary stabs at hippies. Is that okay with you Jason? I love Garden State also.

gerbmom said...

....and I love Shawshank Jason R! I almost chose that one myself....

Hey Jen - you didn't get sick did you? Hope not, but seeing as I was with you on both Sat. and Sunday I'm worried I mighta passed the bug on to you. :( Can't say that we don't have a church that shares. ;)
Have fun this weekend!

I didn't like Squid and the Whale so much. Now, Donnie Darko on the other hand - I'm kinda in that movie. I'll let you guys figure it out. (Mike, don't tell, you know....)

Brandy said...

Wow... I should have posted earlier. You all left a lot of really great comments and paralleled your lives to some really great movies. Jen, I especially like your comments about Motorcycle Diaries and Saved, and yours Jason about Garden State... I cant say I see my life as that of my favorite movies, which are American Beauty and Fight Club... while I appreciate Tyler Durden's stance on materialism, I dont plan or want (SPOLIER ALERT) to be schizophrenic, nor do I want to be in a family like that in America Beauty.

Anyways, some thoughts from me. One movie I could think of that maybe parallels my life is Pleasantville. I grew up in a very sterile, safe, and legalistic environment. But somewhere along the way, life changed and I began to see things in color. It made life more difficult but also much more beautiful.

Saved also reminds me of my life... I totally saw my life and culture in that movie and saw my role in that movie similar to all the characters I think...

If my life could be a movie, I think i would keep it like th emovie it is... I think I like my life, the good and the bad. I do know that I wouldnt want my life to be like a romantic comedy... ew. :)

A Simple Desultory Phillipic said...

I have no problem with hippies, I embrace hippies and love them! They just happened to be the target of my caustic sense of humor for the moment. :)

Let this be a warning to all who read this! I will take potshots often and gratuitously. Always be wary.

April said...

After much deliberation I think I've found a movie or character that fits my I think.

Side note: my brain does not have a category for movies to be remembered, so basically what happens is I watch a movie and forget about it...until the next time I see it or someone goes into detail on what the movie was about.

I would say that I am like Shrek, I like to live in my own little world, away from most people. But, willing to go out into the crazy world and do what I have to do, not wasting time but getting there and doing the task at hand. At times enjoying myself and the company I am with, but also longing for the time when I can be back to my own little place(swamp) where I can moreso predict what is going to happen next.

Also, I'm like an onion and have many layers...but aren't we all.

Julie said...

okay so the only thing I can think of is Moulin Rouge - not because I'm a turn of the century french courtesan, but because I like the transformation from expectation to hope that occurs in Satine. She realizes that she can be her own person apart from the expectations of others. Of course those expectations haunt her and cause her trouble, but she chooses to live her life as fully as she can (okay lets ignore the fact that this was a tragic love story and she dies as soon as she makes that choice...) But I thought the process and the message were great.

WarePhreak Wyncoop said...

I have to note that I've read the responses to date and am not familiar with most of the movies chosen. I've seen Shrek, American Beauty, Moulin Rouge and Pleasantville (which I don't remember).

I haven't come up with a movie that I would want to live in yet.

However I have one that fits my life, "The One". I feel this is fitting because I pretty consistently feel like I am fighting an alternate me. And it feels like the immortals in Highlander where they are "destined to fight until only one is left".

Mike Clawson said...

Thanks everyone! I've really enjoyed reading about your movies. Our lives are a story, and the other stories that we encounter in our lives (such as movies) often give us the language and images to describe our own story.

As you begin to understand the flow and plot of your own story, I wonder, can you begin to see God as a character in your story? Is he part of the action? Does he have a major or minor role? Is he just an extra?

Many of us tend to view God more as the author than as a fellow character in the story. How does it affect your view of God to see him as part of the story too rather than someone standing above or outside of the tale?

WarePhreak Wyncoop said...

I still tend to see Him as outside the story. He is like myself as a programmer. I write a program and continue to go back and tweak and perfect it, thus being continually involved with the program itself.

In God's case, He is the author and perfecter of our faith. He continues to intimately tweak and perfect us.

Mike Clawson said...

Interesting analogy Matt. Have you ever seen that old movie, Tron? The programmer writes a program but something goes wrong inside it. He realizes that to fix the problem he has to actually write himself into the program. Ultimately he has to sacrifice his electronic self to save the program (though he continues to live outside the program). Obviously it's an analogy of the Incarnation. In Jesus we have the ultimate example of God as both programmer and also as a fellow program component.

WarePhreak Wyncoop said...

Have seen the movie, but it was as a kid when it first came out so I don't really remember it.