I finally figured it out! Why I relate so much to movies and quote movie lines, want to emulate movie characters. Find comfort and meaning in TV shows. Feel less alone – and more understood – if I read an excellent book or discover an amazing song.
What I figured out is that these fictional forums often reveal more about people than people do themselves, in real life. In some ways, they’re more like real life than life itself. That’s because you get to see how people really feel, think and act, behind-the-scenes.
Great fictional works about people actually strive to show that – as boldly, poignantly and true-to-life as possible. And I would guess that directors, writers and lyricists often reveal hidden things about themselves or those around them. That takes guts.
I’ve heard songwriters talk about how a truly personal, intimate experience can surprisingly become a universally loved and treasured ‘community’ experience for their listeners and fans. James Taylor talked about that with ‘Fire and Rain.’ And I’ve heard singer-songwriters talk about the only reason they’ve succeeded at all is because they stayed true to themselves. Like when Sam Smith finally won a Grammy when he revealed himself and his pain in his art. Or when artists like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Neil Young and so many more went against the advice of their record producers to do what moves them.
In real life, many people spend a lot of their lives trying to put forth their most perfect version of themselves. We’re afraid to expose our vulnerable sides, admit our worst flaws, share some of the stuff that might go on at home, reveal our fears and insecurities. Other people might laugh at us or, worse, pity us when we do.
We’ve all had that experience. You go to a meeting and everyone around you is more vocal, seemingly secure, outspoken, so sure of themselves. First of all, wrong! I always tell myself, my family, friends, kids, anyone who will listen, that everyone has their own insecurities. Everyone has some sort of problems. Sometimes the most outspoken are the most unhappy. Or they’re trying to prove something. It doesn’t make them smarter or more valuable than you.
There’s that expression – If you put your worst problem or difficult life situation in a hat, then picked out someone else’s, you’d want to grab yours back. It’s all about perspective. And it’s all about realizing that we’ve all got our ‘stuff.’ I often think about Paul Simon singing, “I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered. I don’t have a friend who feels at ease” in that fantastic American Tune song from way back when. We just don’t all share it all the time.
‘Appearance versus reality’ was a common theme I remember from high school English classes. Smokey Robinson sang about ‘The Tears of a Clown.’ And I recently read a New York Times article about Robin Williams that said the funniest person in the room might also be the saddest.
Sometimes it’s best not to share things and you can truly ‘fake it till you make it.’ Also you don’t necessarily want to walk around like a ‘sad sack’ all the time and bring others around you down. But …
When we do share our insecurities and vulnerabilities with each other, it can be magical.
I know I’m always truly inspired, moved and flattered when friends or even acquaintances share things with me. And I’m a pretty big sharer too.
It’s about caring and it’s about trust. And once you open up, usually someone will open up to you, or vice versa. It can be scary. It can be tentative. And it doesn’t mean you disclose everything to people … even close friends.
But great movies, books and songs do reveal it all, and I love and find comfort in that.
I’d like to (aptly?) end with a movie quote. It’s from music critic Lester Bangs (played beautifully by Philip Seymour Hoffman in Almost Famous and he (famously) says: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” Word.