Real Life vs. The Movies

The other day a cute girl behind the counter at the coffee shop flirted with me as I ordered, or at least I felt like she did. You know what happened after that? I got my coffee and sat down. Life isn’t like the movies. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Movies are a “better” version of life. If the moment with the girl behind the counter had been in a movie, she would have wrote her number on my cup or I would have suddenly had a six pack and the confidence to ask her out. Those are “better” versions of what happened, or is it?

What if I had asked her out and gotten rejected? Or we went out on a date and it ended horribly? What if we had dated for months, maybe years before it all spectacularly and painfully imploded? But wait, that doesn’t happen in the movies. In the movies guys who look like Ryan Gosling and build houses for their long lost love get the girl. Guys like me are usually the “best friend” who’s sole purpose in the story is to get my better looking friend hooked up with the equivalently hot girl. Maybe the movies aren’t better.

Maybe life is better because you’re the one who’s living it, and you can make it tell the story you want. Maybe the problem is we don’t look at life the right way, and instead of seeing it as a glorious one-time shot we look at it as a boring chore while we escape into the fantasy made by people who’s whole job is to create an illusion. There’s nothing wrong with a good story, and often a good story can tell us something about ourselves we never thought of before, but maybe we’re escaping too much into fantasy instead of looking at every morning as an opportunity to be involved something real.

I had someone ask me once, “If they made a movie about your life, would any one want to watch it?, and I think that’s an unfair question, because what would be presented would not really be me. Certain things would be edited out and others would be magnified. It would biased to what I, or my editor, thought people wanted to see. Real life and real truth can’t be biased. As much as we try to present our best faces to the world, eventually every side of us comes to the light, because life isn’t perfect, and the movies want to show us so desperately that things can be. Life is better than the movies because of imperfection, and because of that imperfection, when those small perfect moments do come, that are infinitely more significant. Why? Because they are gifts to us, not manufactured moments to get us to buy an extra popcorn. I guess the point I’m trying to grab onto to is that we should appreciate life for what it is, what it can be, and what we can do with it, instead of wishing for some illusion.

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