Recommended Reading Soundtrack: Hold On When You Get Love, and Let Go When You Give It by the Stars on album No One is Lost
A directionally challenged life
The beginning of a new year, the end of another- an opportunity marked by reflection, honoring and engagement with our personal dreams and intentions. It’s a special occasion where the vision for our future, and the present state of our hearts holds a deeper meaning. As we live day to day there seems to be an inner compass within us continuously directing the traffic of our choices. Now is the time to look at how well we’ve been listening to that inner compass, or better yet- where we’ve been living a directionally challenged life.
Like the new season of a favorite show (Hmmmm…., can you say “Downton Abbey!”), the release of an album by an artist we’ve been following for most of our lives, or the opening of all those end of year movie gems- we get to have our own refreshing personal premier of something reflecting our annual personal growth.
“I don’t believe in types, I believe in people.“ Tom Branson, Downton Abbey, Season 4
If you are a die-hard fan, preparing for the first episode of a favorite show’s new season actually takes some work. There’s nothing like turning on the first episode after a year and feeling like you are asleep in one of those adult nightmares where you show up for your senior year in high school and basically have forgotten EVERYTHING. I decided to dig up some Downton Abbey in my own preparation for the U.S. Sunday night’s highly anticipated 2015 season 5 “coming out” party. As I listened and enjoyed all the drama taking place, I noticed a line that had a profound effect on me.
Downton’s progressive character Tom Branson was enjoying a conversation with an attractive and potential romantic interest, a teacher who shares many of his socialist ideals. She was expressing her opinion about “types” of people during a time when classism was beginning its big dive in early 20th century England. Branson rejected her notion that “types” of people existed in his heart with a great line, “I don’t believe in types, I believe in people.”
I’ve been dwelling on this line for the past few days as it is a perfect reflection of not only the last year of my life, but probably the past 25 years. Seeing past the stereotypes and labels of the world around us frees us from the expectations of our lifetime of brainwashing. It frees us from all the pressure we place on ourselves to be a certain way, or meet some society’s expectations of what a “good” or “successful” person is supposed to look like.
As we get older, we tend to play this out in different ways. Usually in our immediate post-high school years we experience freedom from the cliques that held us hostage from loving all those wacky aspects of ourselves. But then we start to put a new kind of pressure on ourselves like career and relationship successes. Next, we hit a wall with age 40 and berate ourselves for not fulfilling all of those “dreams” or “career deadlines” we were “supposed” to fulfill (Think Billy Crystal in “City Slickers”!).
But you know what’s awesome about your life? You have a choice to either go down the path of great expectations or take the path less traveled from your heart. The cool thing about this choice is that you get to determine what this path less traveled is and what it means to you. You get to determine you. You are that rock star that sits down to write a new album; you are that writer that gets to create a new series about what’s important to you. You are the leading lady or gentleman in your film.
There is a great conversation in the film “The Holiday,” where very old in body character Arthur played by Eli Wallach is out to dinner with Iris, Kate Winslet’s character. As she talks about her rather dysfunctional relationship, Arthur looks at her and tells her, “In the movies we have leading ladies, and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady. But for some reason are behaving like the best friend.” Iris responds, “You are so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady in your own life for God’s sake.”
So the big question remains. As we embark together into 2015, what do we want our “Top of the Pops” line-up to be? What do you want your greatest hits to be? Remember, whether you choose the path of great expectations or the path less traveled, neither one of them will be easy. But I have an inkling that one is more rewarding. Being the lead in your own life is about authenticity. It’s about owning all of you and making choices that reflect your greatest hits list.
Like the song by the Stars says, “It’s time to take the weakest thing in you, and then beat the b$#@%#$@* with it!” Cheers to an awesome 2015- from my heart to yours.