The Final Cut

My family and I went to see Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” last night at the movie theater; what a marvelous performance by Daniel Day-Lewis, portraying the beloved president who was complex yet simple, powerful yet demure, jocular yet intense, cheerful yet burdened. I have always loved Abraham Lincoln. He is, without a doubt, one of the true heroes of our country.

I don’t know if your life is like mine or not. But I have often seen my life as a movie. And, as I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, it most decidedly is not. I suspect that some of my fascination with this movie thing comes from the fact that I was raised in the 1950s and 60s, and we loved watching movies. (Granted, they are produced now at such a staggering rate – there is no comparison to when I was a boy). But I also remember hearing that my father frequented the theater in his own era, paying a dime to enter the movie theater every chance he got. Maybe it runs in the family.

But my life is not a movie, of course. Not at all. (I am not Truman Burbank). There is little to no rehearsal. And although there is coaching available, there are no do overs, no mulligan. Words that are said, and actions that are taken have their result, and no amount of desire can alter the sequence. The pictures cannot be lightened or darkened, or doctored in any realistic way. They are by their very nature . . . the final cut.

There is no doubt that we all are actors in this life (metaphorically speaking), with varying degrees of skill. But there is no personal script to which one might refer when straddling a difficult decision, or traversing a painful landscape. And there is no rewrite possible. Your life’s story is written as you live it; things “go to press” immediately, and are published in the blink of an eye.

Maybe that’s why I have felt the way I have for the past three months.

Mother passed away.

I cried.

My brother and I picked up the remaining tasks of settling her life’s affairs here on this earth.

And I have been fine with it all. Oh, on occasion I have broken down, or felt a shudder of emotion rise up in me, but all in all, I’ve been fine. Going about my days.

But as time has passed I find myself burdened. Forgetful. And each day now, by the time late afternoon rolls around, I am often tired enough to go to sleep. It is hard to be motivated to do anything beyond what is absolutely necessary. And so I plod through the days, wondering when I will feel energetic again, and at peace.

I am grieving, arent I?

This is not a motion picture I am experiencing; it is my life. If I am waiting for a director’s prompt, or a revision of the script so that I know the next emotion to portray, the next action to take . . . my part will cease to be believable; it will not look or feel real, because it is not real.

Of course, it could very well be that as I write this I am only writing to myself. No one else in the world even approaches anything close to these feelings, or mistakes their life for a movie in which they are the star actor and everyone else is a supporting actor. And if that is the case, I thank you for reading this anyway, and allowing me to admit my deluded thinking to someone. If that is all that results, then I suppose that will be enough.

But there is the distinct possibility that you know exactly what I’m talking about, and that I am not the crazed lunatic I have often feared I am. Without a doubt there is something within each of us that wants to do a second, third, or even fourth take in the movie of our lives. Human feelings are not “acted” out as they are on the screen; they are felt. Deeply. And if I choose to literally be an actor in my life’s story, not metaphorically, but really . . . an actor . . .  I forfeit the depth and breadth of emotion that makes me truly human. And I will imagine a script and follow it. Even though . . . it does not exist.

Learning how to live. It’s not for the faint of heart.

As I reflect on the Daniel Day-Lewis portrayal of this historical giant-of-a-man I am struck with the realization that what moves me about “Lincoln” is not the actor; rather, the human being the actor is striving with all his theatrical acumen to portray. The real man himself. The greatness that he lived out. Not flawless, mind you. But greatness in spite of personal failures and national obstacles. His final cut.

May I live in such a way that my final cut would inspire and enthuse others toward greatness. And the postmortem script of my life . . . may it receive rave reviews.

About ivanbenson

I am a singer, guitar player, writer, story teller, voice over talent, and heart attack survivor in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
This entry was posted in Aging Parents, Family History, Fathers, Stories, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The Final Cut

  1. denisebensonphotography says:

    Wow, how beautiful……and yet how weighty!

  2. Doug Greenway says:

    My brother,
    Thank you for sharing these thoughts of your journey. Again I am reminded that grieving is best seen as a journey – rather than a one-time event with nice, neat stages and a one-size-fits-all timeline. God is still on the throne and our “life movie” will have a happy ending. Thanks for reminding me. Doug

  3. Robert Ables says:

    well said!

  4. Jo Turner says:

    Well, you will leave an indelible image on all those you’ve touched in life as well as will your Mother. She was a fine lady, and your influence and hers were for good. Life is a series of decisions and we make them day by day. There are many times I’ve wished for “do-overs” but sometimes it’s too late. Like you said, we can’t re-write the script. My Dad said as he got older, “Life ain’t for sissies.” “Ain’t” that the truth! God bless you and your family.

  5. Randy Sides says:

    Ivan, I know what you are going through and can almost predict your days. This started for me, my sister, and brother roughly two months prior to yours. Sometimes it is the same for me. Some days I do not want to get up.

  6. Denise says:

    Ok, so this is the REAL Denise:) As you know Mom’s comment is under my name.
    Thank you, thank you for writing again! As I’ve said before, you write so beautifully, with such emotion and heart. Praying that the days get easier…thank you for this reminder.

  7. Abigail Williams (Pitts) says:

    Mr. Benson,

    I saw Denise post this and I can’t tell you how much this post meant to me.
    Thank you for writing it and describing, so beautifully, truths about grief, life, and the
    temptations to be “Actors” rather than real people in our story. I can definitely identify
    and I am so grateful for your descriptions about it that help process and figure it all out.

    I’m very sorry about the loss of your mother. Praying for you and your family.

    Abigail (Pitts) Williams

    • ivanbenson says:

      Thank you so much, Abigail. It is so meaningful when something I write connects with another person in the way you’ve described. And thank you for your sympathies and prayers; they are much appreciated and felt. Blessings on you.

  8. Suzanne says:

    wow – just wow – thanks for sharing this…I’m a crazed lunatic too then…but I think you are right, I think we all struggle & long for this. Love you!

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