I recently watched Todd Haynes’ “I’m Not There”. Extraordinary actors like Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Richard Gere create characters that represent different aspects of Bob Dylan’s life. The film explores the conflict between the ever-changing Dylan and outraged fans and critics who wanted to define him and keep him that way.
I can’t say I loved it. Can’t even recommend it. But it has stayed with me as a complex, rich lesson about being present in your life – often in conflict with other people’s expectations. It reminded me of a line from the est training, “Most likely you are perfect the way you are; you just keep acting the way you used to be.”
The more well known you are, the more success you achieve, the more people demand you “be” what they define you as. What is an operative word here because that way of relating to each other objectifies and depersonalizes us.
When you make healthy changes in your life or even totally transform some aspect of yourself it may require courage and patience to interact with friends, family, co-workers and fans who feel betrayed that you are not the same person they signed up to be with.
It can be painful, especially if you believe it’s wrong to be different today from how you were yesterday or last year – or for someone you love or work with to evolve into someone new. Consider the alternative. All creativity, life and growth exist only in the here and now. To keep acting the way we used to be chokes the life-force right out of us. It leaves us bored and frustrated or zombie-like.
It can be a great adventure to discover which relationships can flex and grow as we do and which ones cannot withstand the strain of the stretch.
I remember when I asked Doug Wilson, director to the wonderful Rowe Conference Center, to take ‘warm’ out of my bio. I didn’t want to be cold. I just didn’t want to attract people who functioned like heat-seeking missiles any more. Something shifted. Being clear and useful grew in importance. Being warm, not so much.
At 70, I’m becoming an old person. It’s very interesting. I’ve never been an old person before. When I am present with who and where I am now, it’s as exciting as any other phase of my life. When it doesn’t fit the way I used to be, I feel diminished, just less that I was.
Take a moment to pause. I will too. Notice what it is like to be you. Right here. Right now. Like you have never been before.
As shiver of excitement traveled through my body and remains tingling in my heart. What is happening with you?
Cheering you on to be here now.