The Secret to Life…….Quiet on the Set

At a very early age and as soon as we start to think about our lives we are naturally inclined to start planning for the future. When we are old enough to set expectations for every tomorrow we begin to formulate in our minds what that tomorrow will look like and we become Directors of our first movies in the theater of our minds.

As young children we quickly loose the innocence of just awakening to another dawn as we learn to plan for virtually everything. Vacations, school, birthday parties, exams, the weather, even what we want for dinner all become forecast in our minds eye and we predict as best as possible how each event will unfold so we can control the outcome and the movie will run as expected.

We continue to do this as adolescents only now the films are getting more complex as we start to build relationships with friends and members of the opposite sex. We start to think about what we will wear days in advance and why we will wear it. We begin to worry more about the production we are directing and how each moment will play out; often rehearsing many adaptations of the same scene, always to better prepare ourselves for the location where the film will be shot and even what the other actors may or may not say and do. We even find ourselves predicting other performer’s lines before reading the script.

As we get progressively older the movie gets even more multifaceted and the world around us reinforces the conventional wisdom that we better prepare for the future before it gets here or heaven knows we might wind up in the gutter. We are so frightened by creation that we try harder and harder to rewrite the script of our film so we have every possibility accounted for. We have countless variations on how the final shoot will end and we pass it by our own internal test audience to see which version sells the most tickets.

The problem with all of this waste of mental energy and attempt at control is that it rarely produces the film that actually makes it into release. Most of it is left on the cutting room floor of life and what we wind up with instead is an epic that includes mostly scenes that we never planned for because we had to change plots continuously to adapt to a problem on a set we never expected.

When we arrive at the Academy award presentation at the end of our lives we fidget in our seats hoping our name won’t be called because if we are honest we will have to give a speech on how our movie really didn’t turn out as we planned and in fact most of its success was the result of scenes that we can’t remember shooting; from actors that we didn’t cast, from dialogue we never wrote and from locations we can’t recall setting up our cameras in. The best part of the film that was our life had nothing to do with our directorship and instead it was the result of something completely unexplainable.

We are left with an acceptance speech of only twelve words: “I wish to thank the academy but I cannot accept this award.”

When we return home that night after the festivities are over and we take off our tux and settle into our coffin for the last time; we start to reflect on our masterpiece. We remember the greatest moments that made the final copy; we feel the sun from that location we forgot about, we listen again to the incredible lines spoken with passion and purpose from the cast that arrived on the set uninvited and we know that these were the amazing moments of this incredible spectacle that really defined the legend of our life and that they materialized when our director chair was empty and we were merely an extra swept up in the backdrop.

We can’t help but sense that if we had just listened to ourselves when we shouted out our first command that started our Oscar winning production and had done exactly what the producer had suggested all along, this would have been an even greater achievement.

Then in the background we hear it again; but it’s not our voice we hearing this time; it’s the producer Himself…..

“OK everybody……this is it……Quiet on the Set”!


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