WHAT IF I SAID you can change your life for the better, and that all you’ll need is a gazillion dollars, a whackload of planning, and years of back-breaking effort? “That’s not very helpful or surprising,” you’d say. Most of us have limited resources—not only money, but discipline and energy and time. Sure, it’s great to have one big goal for the year, but anything more than that and you’re courting disappointment.
Seeing a movie once, and only once, forever
Before the mass adoption of video home systems (VHS) in the early 1980s, the only place you’d see a movie was in the theatre, and the only time you’d see it was at the time of its release. Sure, you could go back to the theatre during the two weeks it was playing, and see it again and again. If the movie was unusually popular, it might be held over for as long as a month. Eventually the screening would end, and the movie would disappear into a black hole with no plan or expectation of a re-release. There was no option of renting or streaming. And since sequels (and prequels) have become commonplace only in the last couple of decades, chances are there would be no revisiting of the story, ever. You’d move on to the next movie, and your recollections would be the only thing you’d have.
NOTE—This piece is based on a writing assignment in the book 642 Things to Write About, published by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto:
“Only ten people will fit in the life raft. Convince the Captain that you should be one of them.”
MR SMITH? Hi!—sorry about the mister. I realize I should have said captain. I know it’s not the best time, with the boat sinking and all, but I’ve been meaning to say that’s a nice uniform. The contrast of black and gold is masculine, audacious even, and conveys authority—while also being stylish. So often these days dress is nothing but function. Or you have uniforms like on the Love Boat, which have no gravitas whatsoever. I mean, short-sleeves? Really? Captain Stubing was no Mr. Smith, if you ask me. Sure, he was pleasant, but is pleasant really what you want when the ship is going down? Which brings me to what I was hoping to discuss with you, and I know you’re a busy man. All I’m asking for is a minute of your time and that you’ll consider letting me on the life boat. This is my story.
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