Cardboard People

Went with a friend today to see the movie “Up In the Air.”  If you haven’t had the chance yet, run to the nearest movie theater and catch it. It’s awesome.

One of the great things about this movie is its relevance.  It’s just so appropriate in this time in America.  George Clooney plays a guy who fires people for a living.

Ahem.  Tough gig.

One of the messages that came across loud and clear, though, is losing your job is not the worst thing in the world to happen to you.  Your job is what you do.  It’s not, and shouldn’t be, who you are.  And how many of us take a job, fall into a career, sleepwalk through life, and come out of the industrial machine scratching our heads and wondering what the heck just happened.

Is that, was that, it?

What did we trade our dreams for?  How much did we get paid to give away our dreams?  And was it worth it?

Now, to all of you out there who are doing just exactly what you dreamed of doing, you blessed ones who knew what you wanted to be from childhood and set about pursuing them, always keeping your eye on the prize, let me just tell you how lucky you are. You were one of the fortunate ones.

The rest of us stumbled along with a nebulous idea of what we might do and somehow stumbled our way into some kind of compensatory deal wherein we traded our time and attention for a wage and, if we were really lucky, a good dental package.

Having that door close on you might not be the worst thing that happens.  It might be the best.  Because it forces you to look back at what you might have done, the life you might have lived, had you lost the option of just getting by with something easy.

And, hey, if George Clooney’s the one giving you the news, all the better.

This movie also got me to thinking about the ways in which we insulate ourselves from pain through self-talk.  Some of us manage to convince ourselves that we don’t want certain things by leading a life that will, we believe, keep us from harm.  Be it personal relationships, a safe career, whatever.

We believe we’re smart. We’ve got it all figured out. Everyone who chooses that other way of life?  A bunch of lemmings.  Suckers setting themselves up to fail.

Why show need or loneliness? Why take that risk?

Well, without risk, there’s no reward.  It would be nice if you were just handed what you think you want, but life doesn’t work that way.  Unless you’re fine with settling with just okay, you have to be brave and take a leap or you won’t get what you really, really want.  And, often, all being brave means is admitting your need or loneliness or dissatisfaction.  Admitting it to yourself.

Why is that so hard, though?

Sometimes you make the leap and fall flat, but you know, if it had worked out, it would have been great.

You’re better off flattened than afraid.

At least, that’s how I see it.

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