Monday, June 30, 2014

My Favorite Scenes

When I was in college, my roommate bought a copy of The Sixth Sense on DVD. Back in those days I used to watched all the bonus features, including the director's commentary on the deleted scenes. For this movie in particular, M Night Shyamalan said something that really stuck with me. "Sometimes to serve the movie, you have to cut your favorite scene." He then showed the scene he had cut. After watching it, I was glad he cut it. It didn't work. The movie was better without it.

What stuck with me is that often in my own life, to serve the "movie," I have to cut my favorite scenes. Sometimes the things I cling to most tightly, whether good or bad, are the things I most need to get rid of, and once I do, I open the door for enormous growth.

I used to follow about 14 TV shows. I couldn't imagine missing any of them. It took a while, but I phased all of them out and hardly watch any TV now. A movie or two on the weekend is usually enough to entertain me for the week.

I used to be very confident in my knowledge of healthy eating. Pasta, pizza, Subway, breakfast cereal, and Hamburger Helper were all staples of my diet. Then I got fat. Admitting to myself that I was wrong about healthy eating was almost as hard as changing my diet, but once I did, I lost 30 pounds.

I used to read about 25 books a year but realized I was spending all my time reading because I was afraid to go out and actually do things. As a challenge, I limited myself to one book a month. With my free time, I started doing things I never would have done before and accomplishing quite a bit. Now I'm in shape, a coach, a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu, and still pretty well read.

When my band broke up, I tried for a couple years to recapture the glory. I was determined to start another band and pickup where the old band left off. I spent a lot of money on gear and chased a lot of dead ends, but eventually I realized I needed to step away. It wasn't until I put down the guitar that I discovered other pursuits which fit my current stage of life even better.

I've found this method so effective that I try to use it proactively. If I find myself stuck in a rut, I examine my favorites scenes and evaluate if they need to be cut. Even if I'm not in a rut, I try to be objective with how I'm using my time, and if there's an aspect that doesn't seem to be producing results, I'll eliminate it, if only temporarily, to see if there's a change for the better.

Cutting my favorite scenes is essentially admitting that I'm wrong, and not just wrong, but wrong about the things I most want to be right about. It's never comfortable, but so far, it's been very valuable. 

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