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Randy Jacob - Unsplash

Juxtaposition: The Living Story

Audio Version (music by Sergii Pavkin)

In my experience as a film and video editor, one of the most common challenges is having enough raw content to create something of substance, flow, and meaning. So much is decided in fractions of a second, and often in only one or two frames, that we can quickly run out of useful material. Editing is manipulation. Editing alters the pacing, meaning, theme, and structure, as well as the altering eye.

As we journey through life, we consciously create and edit our story by highlighting key memories, significant moments, and emotional bookmarks. It is a never-ending cycle of experiences that changes shape as we grow, learn, unlearn, trip, fall, and stand up.

Every now and then, perhaps when we start a new relationship or find ourselves in a situation where we need to briefly, succinctly summarize who we are, the tell-me-about-yourself trigger initiates yet another pass by the internal story, film, or script editor. In order to both remind ourselves and effectively relate the nutshell of a lifetime to another, we filter and disclose selectively based on who we are now and who we are speaking with.

Some of us embellish the details. Some of us go far beyond modesty and undervalue our accomplishments. Whatever method we choose, if it isn’t practiced and rehearsed, we may struggle to connect the dots and end up telling a very short story.

But there has to be more! If you are 20, 30, or 40 years old, you have lived 7,300 to 14,600 days. Surely there’s enough in there to make a rich, deep, powerful, and meaningful story, right?

Ilia Zolas – Unsplash

The most impressive sculptures require thousands of chips, cuts, or manipulations with our fingers, hands, and tools before the artwork emerges. The soul and substance of the thing are found in the countless details, millions of decisions, and billions of thoughts.

We should not be so quick to dismiss the depth of our life story in order to save ourselves embarrassment, color others’ perception, or conceal our pain. Everybody operates on the same spectrum, using the same variables of fear, love, worry, trust, anxiety, and ease.

Our culture is heavily biased in favor of saving face, to the point where we physically alter and manipulate our appearance with knives, lasers, implants, tints, and poisons. We consciously choose to say this rather than that and to mention this while omitting that. Over time, we may lose sight of why we’re here in the first place. Life, as we know it, transforms into a thin, superficial fiction based on a true story. And we know that in our diseased, dysfunctional, and distorted media, the truth is nowhere to be found.

Courage fuels authenticity. Authenticity serves as the foundation for vulnerability. Vulnerability initiates surrender and integrates the fragmentation of our beingness, bringing it all back together and completing the puzzle of a thousand million instances of who we believed we were. The depth of our character is based on the understanding that everything matters, that everything counts, and that our story — our entire story — is unique, beautiful, and relevant.

Love your life.

The Hidden Power” from The Reluctant Pilgrim, Part I