Best Friends, Leading Ladies, Main Characters, and Extras…

I have been a best friend, I have been a nobody, an extra really, on the periphery of excitement or celebrations that other people experience, I have been the leading lady in big events and situations, and I have been a main character in somebody else’s tale…I have been, and am, a variety of versions of myself. I am likely to write about the whole “New Year New Me” mindset as I have just hung my new wall calendar (so old fashioned, I know) I know it might sound juvenile, but I do truly live one life inside of my own head and one life outside, amongst others, in the real world, and both are equally important to me. By this I mean that I have a non-stop narrative going on in my head all the time as hours roll into days and days into months and months into decades…like a movie that always plays in the background while I go about the business of being alive, and sometimes the “in my brain” world jives with my “in the flesh” world. Does everybody do this? Does everybody have an entire reality in their minds that is different than the experiences they are living in real time?? I was sort of hesitant to discuss this, for a mild fear, concern perhaps, that maybe I am insane and have managed to hide it significantly enough over the years to stay under the radar of padded-room attendants! I suppose what I am wondering is if it is “normal?” …and to be clear I don’t know that I even care if I am normal, which seems like it would be rather ordinary and I feel pretty much like that could be terribly boring…but still I ask, is it normal to have life that goes on day-after-day in real time with real people, and have an EQUALLY IMPORTANT LIFE that goes on, at the same time, but only in my head?? …AND truth be told, I do, more often than not, prefer the one in my head to the real one…

I am not fond of making “resolutions” as such for a new year because as we all know, and have read and heard, they generally motivate behavior for a few weeks at most and then people, most people, go right back to their easy and normal and regular way of life or habits. Change is not easy. Change that makes us uncomfortable is even harder. Getting rid of bad habits is a habit in and of itself because you have to be diligent in your efforts to modify your behavior, and your way of thinking about it, consistently and continuously or there is no success. You have to, if you want to change ANYTHING, essentially rewrite your character. Whether your character is the extra, the leading lady, the friend, the hero, or even the villain, the role HAS TO BE REWRITTEN if the character is going to change. The leading lady and the main character of your story is not a smoker. The hero of your story is not a dead-beat-dad. The extra in your story does not secretly go through the drive-thru and then throw out all the wrappers in the public garbage can. The main character of your story does not cheat on his wife, the main character does not gamble away her social security, the main character is not a couch potato…WHATEVER role you want to change, however the behavior needs to be modified to make the part more appealing to you, or more in keeping with how you imagine the rest of the story is going to unfold, can only be created by you, for you. This is where my head is on this day, as one year ends and another starts.

In August I made many changes and decisions, and decisions to change, as my November birthday was nearing and much like I pay my property taxes every quarter, I also try to check-in with my body and mind and life every quarter as well. I have concluded that the intentions that I created as summer was ending are good, and they feel right, and I am going to keep them, and add more, for the new year. This is not a resolution necessarily but it is acknowledging that I have resolved some conflicts in my life and will move forward in ways that keep the momentum. I suppose that is the best way I can start a new year; taking what DID work, and rolling it into the year ahead while recognizing what did NOT work and leaving it behind. Changing, changing, changing, and growing, growing, growing, seems, to me at least, the best way to be the best role of me I can perform.

I know a lot of people who do not change and do not want to change and even if they say, repeatedly that they will change or things will change, nothing does. There is nothing I can do about the roles that other people play or how they choose to modify or solidify their character’s traits in their own stories. I have been terribly disappointed by some of the extras in my life and have also been surprisingly delighted by how some events unfolded but all of these experiences, the good and the bad, were the experiences of other people and I was just an extra in their story too…it goes both ways. I have accepted that I can’t fix anything about other people AND can’t keep thinking about it…if it has nothing to actually do with me; if my main character is neither directly damaged by, nor personally inconvenienced by it, then the main character does not need to waste another minute thinking about it…what the extras are doing has nothing to do with me…If that is not a good “resolution” then I don’t know what is!!!

Turning 55 turned something on in me that I was not expecting, a fire, a drive, a desire to rewrite some portions of this role and so far I am loving the editing process. My dad’s parents both lived to be nearly 100 and my mom’s parents lived into their 80’s so I feel like I am genetically lucky and likely to have at least two decades, and probably more, of life to live and I can do so much, and change so much, and experience so much still!!! I know people my age who had parents die in their late fifties and early sixties, so for them, it’s possible that The End is near and so maybe they lack the desire to change anything and are in the “why bother” mode of their story. I can’t know what they are thinking and not to sound harsh, but I no longer care. I spent a lot of time with a lot of people over my life, trying to write my part into THEIR story and that benefits me in ZERO ways.

I am at an age now where my part is the only role that I need to worry about and everybody else has to worry about their own parts…where they are on the stage of their own play…does their character have lots of flaws or only a few, is their character likable or deplorable…does their character have traits of a heroine or a victim, will the character save the day…will the character save their self…so many parts being played in so many different stories. Life is a little like reading a book or watching a play, we are IN it and OUT of it depending on how deeply we are paying attention. For the time that is left of my life, I want to focus on my role, my character’s dreams yet to be fulfilled or regrets that she is going to leave behind her, and how she is going to be better able to mingle and mix and match with all of the other characters in her story. I suppose for my “resolution” if I get to a part or a scene that feels off, or my character finds herself in a situation that I would never have written for her, I want to have the confidence to re-write…CUT!! change some stage direction and dialogue!!!

‘Tis true, life does not come with a delete or backspace key. There is no giant pink eraser…like on an elementary school essay, erasing sentences when you realize you can write something in a completely different way and your paragraph will be better! The story of what has been our lives can’t be wiped off like some ridiculous brainstorming ideas in a conference on a giant white board…BUT every single minute the way the story, your story, will end, can be changed. “You’re supposed to be the Leading Lady of your own life for god’s sake!!!” is a line from a beloved holiday movie, called The Holiday, that I watch at least once every December, and that scene always gets to me rewind, and this month got to me in a bigger way than usual…it made me feel like I wanted to put a little more zhuzh in my world, and in any way that I saw fit, and so I will. This is my invitation to you too, gentle reader, dear friend, curious stranger…if your character feels like it’s wanting, something is missing, there is some sort of misfire going on, well, maybe your story also needs some zhuzh!!! Go ahead, start a fresh chapter in this new year for yourself…see how it goes and edit where needed…Next act, Scene I…it is dark (we hear a rooster crow and the rain drizzling) she is sitting at her desk with a look of contemplation on her face (perplexed) as she works at her computer, she takes a pause (breathes deep in through her nose, out through her nose) she looks to her right and slowly smiles as she sees the tiny sliver of sun begin to rise behind the cedar trees…ACTION!

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