Thursday, October 6, 2016

Things That Jim Carrey Taught Me

This morning I watched a delightful speech given, by Donovan Livingston, called "Lift Off." You might have seen or heard about it, as it has gone viral. It's wonderful. It talks about being who we are and helping others be who they are. It's addressed to how the education system is run in America and talks a little about the infamous Common Core. It brings up some good points of view and is really a fun speech to listen to. I have strong opinions about education in this country, which you can ask me about anytime, but that's not the aspect of Mr. Livingston's speech that I want to talk about. The parts I do want to talk about are actually many of the same points that were given in another delightful speech about two years ago by the one and only Jim Carrey.

In his speech Mr. Livingston says the following:

"We were born to be comets,
Darting across space and time —
Leaving our mark as we crash into everything.
A crater is a reminder that something amazing happened here —
An indelible impact that shook up the world."

BOOM! You, my casual reader, are a comet. We're all here with the potential to alter the course of life.

Here's some more from Mr. Livingston:

"I teach in hopes of turning content, into rocket ships —
Tribulations into telescopes,
So a child can see their potential from right where they stand.
An injustice is telling them they are stars
Without acknowledging night that surrounds them.
Injustice is telling them education is the key
While you continue to change the locks."

Another BOOM! I just got done with a long-term substitute teacher position and let me tell you, too many of my students were aimless. But, you know, that's exactly why I'm not just talking about the problems with the education system in this post, because too many people in this world are aimless.

How many of us wander the streets, going about our day-to-day, just to fulfill some standard or need that society has taught us to believe. I am a writer! I write books and movie scripts and, you know what, I'm always afraid to tell people what I'm working on. It's my dream to be a writer and to see my books published and up on a shelf, but I'm afraid to let others know my dreams. I'm afraid because I'm nervous to hear what they have to say. I've been told by too many people that my dreams are a waste of time. What right does any one have to tell them their dream is not worth living?

Let's let Jim Carrey shed some more light on this subject. In his 2014 Commencement speech at Maharishi University, Carrey talks about an identity crisis that he had when he was feeling aimless. In his own poetic words he says that he worried he was:

"Just a flickering light
A dancing shadow
The great nothing masquerading as something you can name
Dwelling in forts and castles made of witches – wishes! Sorry, a Freudian slip there
Seeking shelter in caves and foxholes, dug out hastily
An archer searching for his target in the mirror
Wounded only by my own arrows
Begging to be enslaved
Pleading for my chains
Blinded by longing and tripping over paradise."

Perhaps we can become so consumed with that aimlessness that we begin to just float on the course of a life that others have set for us. We want those chains, as Carrey brings up, to bind us and keep us down, because that's easier than dreaming dreams that we will never dare to live.

Jim Carrey then goes on and gives an amazing viewpoint about life. He says:

"Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you. How do I know this? I don’t, but I’m making sound, and that’s the important thing. That’s what I’m here to do. Sometimes, I think that’s one of the only things that are important. Just letting each other know we’re here, reminding each other that we are part of a larger self."

Society makes us believe that the true heroes are those that do everything alone. Only when we have accomplished something by ourselves, we are taught, is when we have truly accomplished anything. But, loneliness is the way of foolish not the accomplished. I am writing this post at the campus of my alma mater. I've been coming here for the past several weeks for a place that I can quietly search for a job. These last several weeks have been incredibly lonely. Most all of my friends from this school are graduated and have moved on. I rarely find someone I know to sit by or eat with at lunch. This isn't a "woe is me" complain session, but just a statement of how things are. But at one of these lunches I put down my phone and just looked around. I saw so many others, like me, sitting by themselves with no one to talk to. It is so easy to forget what Carrey just said that we are all "part of a larger self." We don't need to do this thing alone.

We all know this, sometimes we forget it, but for the most part we know that we need others in this world, but yet so many are still aimless. Jim Carrey calls those people the "unloved," and he says, "Beware the unloved, because they will eventually hurt themselves."

We have to care for other people before they give into the aimlessness, but how do we do that? We have to live our dreams. No matter what. This isn't to say that we neglect everyone and everything in our life to obtain our dreams, but it does mean we try for them and we stop telling others that their dream is a waste of time.

Don't worry Jim Carrey has stuff to say about that too.

He says:

"My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant, and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love."

That'll keep you up at night, man! Are we giving up on our dreams because we don't think they're safe? Are we afraid?

More Jim:

"Fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about your pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it."

We don't go for it because we don't believe we are comets. We don't think we can impact or are told that we're wasting our time. This life isn't suppose to be here for us to conform to it, but for us to change it. Who cares if no one will read that book? Who cares if no one will like your drawings? Lift off and go for it anyway.

Once we go for that dream (and when I say dream I'm not just talking about a job or a way to make money, but that's more for you to figure out and dream about than for me to write about) you can help others. You don't drag others down but lift them up. Picasso once said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Are we helping others remain that artist in whatever form it takes, or are we insisting that they "grow up?"

"How will you serve the world?" asks Carrey. "What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out. As someone who has done what you are about to go do, I can tell you from experience, the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. Everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart."

I added the emphasis there.

The craters our comets create are meant to impact the earth and change it, not get us money. I want my son to be able to look back at his childhood and say, "Man, Dad and Mom always lifted me up and encouraged me." That's not to say I gave him everything he wanted, but I helped him push himself when that aimlessness tried to sneak in.

The aimlessness fights back. When you think you've done something great and accomplished something wonderful it always pipes in and says, "You're not good enough and that's not good enough." I can assure you that before I go to hit that publish button at the top of my screen I'm going to hear that from the aimless monster. Heck, in times past I've avoiding posting something or even writing it because I was afraid of what labels would be thrown my way, but no more.

Jim Carrey, too, knows that that aimlessness still pops around but he tells us this, "Sure it’s rough sometimes but that’s OK, ‘cause they’ve got soft serve ice cream with sprinkles!"

So, tonight, go get some soft serve ice cream and remain that artist that you were when you were a child. Like Carrey says at the end of his speech, "You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world ... [in life] you will only ever have two choices: love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart."

If you made it this far, congrats! Thank you for taking the time to read this preachy (with a dash of stream of consciousness mixed in) post. Both speeches and their transcripts are linked in the text and if you missed that they are below. Go listen to them or read them. Jim Carrey's is a bit longer than Donovan Livingston's, but totally worth it.

Until next time, my casual reader, make someone smile.

Donovan Livingston's "Lift Off"

Jim Carrey's Commencement Speech

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