Wednesday, October 14, 2009


"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players."

I watched a film recently that affected me deeply. Synecdoche, New York starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, is the story of writer Caden Cotard who, while experiencing a mysterious illness that is slowly eating away at his nervous system, is attempting to write the opus of his career as a playwright. The line between the play and his life gets blurred and leads to a very deep look at the mind of a writer and the challenge the creative mind has in keeping it all together.

Sometimes I wonder whether I am more in love with the story of my life, than the life itself. I have these moments of disconnect where I'm not sure if it's me (whatever me is) living my life or this body playing a role that my mind has decided is the appropriate one. It's like there is a cast and crew in my psyche constantly vying for attention. I am the writer, director and the star of the show.

The film, written by Charlie Kaufman, who also wrote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (another favorite film of mine), raises the question of how best to live one's life. As Cotard writes his play and directs the players, he is constantly at odds with how best to move the story along, how to let it unfold organically yet methodically, and how to ultimately bring it to an end. This quandary is not just the domain of a playwright or writer but that of the life-writer--you, me, all of us living out our stories on this planet each day. How do we best live out the story? Which characters do we invite onto our life's stage? When should they come on and when should they leave? How is a life best lived--planned out to the detail or allowed to unfold as it will, or somewhere in between? And how does one go about striking that balance, if it is at all possible? And how to end the story? And when that end arrives, will the main character be contented with how the play came together or didn't? Will she be able to look back on the story and feel it reflected her best work--as a writer, a director, an actress, a human?

I don't know.
I never know.
I write the story.
I live the story.
I am the writer,
The director,
The actress,
And the waiting fool.
But I never know.
Never know for sure.
If any of it
Is worth it.

tall penguin

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