Our life only really exists for us in the way that we remember it.
We are the story that we shape from our memories. They carry the values we choose to express, the beliefs & understandings which shape our choices in the moment.
Reshaping our actions requires reshaping our stories, applying a new context to them. Was what we did then a good choice, a bad choice or a lesson? Were the thoughts that led us to what we did signs of some deeper truth or were they a result of twisted thinking?
The transformation of our stories is the transformation of who we are in the world, as Mary Catherine Bateson explains in the excellent “Peripheral Visions: Learning Along The Way.”
We don’t just live a life, we relive it, applying new meaning to it as we go along. This is what “Transgender is about changing your mind,” is all about, peeling back what we have wrapped in shame, fear and denial, deconstructing a life so we can get rid of the junk that blocked our heart, emerging as more authentic and present in the world.
Movie moments are the memories that we go back to time and time again, the ones that give us emotional recall. They may be times of laughter & warmth, times of passion & love, times of connection & understanding, times of triumph or failure, times of pride or shame, times of heartbreak or embarrassment, times of insight & revelation.
Whatever the event, it is the emotion wrapped in it that makes it a movie moment. The stories we remember without this potent kick of emotion are just facts, just details, just fodder. They are important and useful, maybe even becoming movie moments as we go back to examine the emotion that underlies them, but they don’t feed our feelings.
As a human, we crave feelings. We want to feel amused, satisfied, valued, understood, proud, and more. We need those feelings to feel loved and connected in the world, which is why we are willing to go through all sorts of bad feelings, feelings we know we don’t want, to try to get to them. Our willingness to engage and learn from even difficult encounters very much shapes how we grow and heal, becoming better and becoming new.
Mirroring is vital in finding a way to own those movie moments in our own life. We cannot process them without retelling them, either to ourselves or more likely to others who can offer their understanding, support and context to those emotional events.
We respect and renew our stories by retelling them. When we do that with reflection we can also reshape those stories, letting them help move us forward. Emotion passed through insight creates a new foundation.
In my life, I am scraping for movie moments, for touchstones of emotion, that energize and empower me. When I cry for lack of mirroring, it is reflection of these moments I need, reminding me that good, beautiful, fun, delightful and triumphant is possible for me.
I love doing this mirroring for other people, adding context, making connections and reminding them time and time again that they are gorgeous and brilliant. Hearing my stories and the meaning I apply to them can be useful in giving context, but it is when I mirror their stories back to them that they really catch a glimpse of the powerful person they can be if they just let go of ego and trust their higher self.
My writer’s ear helps them reshape their own movie moments, seeing meaning in them that they lost, hid or ignored, changing their mind by changing their vision of their own stories. They own their own vitality and possibility by owning their stories again, in a new way.
The lack of movie moments leads me to a lack of hope, a deficit of belief that it is possible for me to get the emotional connections which will nourish me. The scarcity of emotional mirroring that I learned to live with, using my big mind to scrape up all the tiny bits of warmth & affirmation so I could extract every molecule has grown to consume my resources, emptying the reserves.
I know why I gave what I gave and I know why I was plunged into scarcity for the last years, but today, that dearth of movie moments feels more like death of the soul.
Scrutinizing every possible moment before engaging in them, weighing the risk versus reward, looking at how the cost weighs against the possible upside, has put a big void between me and any possibility of a divine surprise, an affirming and encouraging movie moment I couldn’t possibly have imagined before it happened. I try, I don’t get what I need, usually instead getting affirmation of what I fear, and then I have less to try again.
In searching through my own movie moments to get the hope and encouragement I need to go out there and expose myself again, I come up drastically short. Instead, I get moments of frustration denial and real, profound & deep pain.
We are reborn when our movie moments are reborn, when we come to see our life as having the dramatic possibilities of a great film. The genre of film is our choice, usually getting more meaningful as we mature.
My movie moments, though, no matter how much I write them out, have become dry and stale, though, truth be told, they weren’t all that juicy to begin with. Living a life backwards, starting with mental discipline and then struggling to open up into passion, an unembodied life, well, the moments are scarce and less less than full of vitality & joy.
Making life is making memories and transforming life is transforming those memories into meaningful touchstones, movie moments we can play back to help us return to what is important and powerful.
No matter how many biographies of Buster Keaton I read, though, my own movie moments have escaped me. The lamp is not lit.