This fall, I started watching This Is Us. I know, it’s already halfway through its second season, so I’m totally behind, but that’s fine by me. (And yes, I’m aware of the hugely sad episode of last week.) Last fall, when it debuted, Mini COD was so sporadic in his bedtime routine, plus we had no way of recording episodes, so we just gave up on trying to watch it live. I knew it was up my alley when people said it was “the next Parenthood” (which I loved).
Now that we’re utilizing DIRECTV, recording everything we’d like to watch is a fun luxury. (Yes, we know it’s super un-frugal of us to have this service, and we’ll probably quit if we can switch our internet provider soon.) We often fit in a show or two to unwind after the kiddos are in bed. So I’m in season one and fully addicted.
I want to take you back to episode 6, entitled “Career Days”, in which Randall experiences a bit of a mid-life crisis. Having been adopted as a newborn and only recently reunited with his biological father, he’s naturally coming to grips with some of the ways his life might have been different with his biological family. Randall’s a numbers guy, very methodical, and financially well-off. (BTW, he could totally jump on the FIRE bandwagon anytime if he wished, judging from the money comments he’s made.) But his bio dad was/is a poet and musician, so Randall wonders if he possesses some dormant artistic talent that simply hadn’t been nurtured.
In this episode, Randall attends his daughter’s career day and attempts to make his somewhat dull-seeming career appear more exciting through a song he’s created. But the song, his shaky voice, and uninspired lyrics all make for a rather pitiful display. His brief performance leaves his entire family cringing in their seats.
What I loved was the scene following this embarrassing one. Randall, now back at home with his father, confesses to some illusions of grandeur that led him to do this. He explains, “You know in movies sometimes, when a character is preparing for a big game or performance, and there’s this montage showing them practicing, and then the big day arrives and they win?” (By the way, I’m just paraphrasing here. You get the gist.)
Randall’s father nods and says he may have seen a few movies with an plot like that. Then the disappointed Randall admits, “I think I may have skipped the montage.” Chuckling, his father agrees.
Changing Our Default Takes Time
Don’t we all want to skip the montage? You know, the period of months or years of hard work that gets compressed into a few minutes in a sports movie? As the pump-you-up music plays, you see the puny athlete transform from weakling to strongman almost instantly. Effortlessly.
Of course, we’re supposed to feel like we could do that, too. That’s why film directors make those long hours of grueling training look so easy! No one would watch a movie with hours of footage of team practice or musical rehearsal. That’s not where the thrills are. The thrills are in that big performance, that playoff game, that final test (anyone think Reese Witherspoon made the MCAT look just a tad too simple in Legally Blonde?).
I, too, often search for a shortcut to greatness. I’d rather not put in the hours every day to become awesome; I’d love to just go out and win without even trying. Even it’s a skill in which I excel, I still must work to develop that skill and gain practical experience. (Hello, freelance writing and proofreading business!)
Every time I watch an episode of Fixer Upper, I get some of that urge to skip the montage. Condensing an entire house renovation into an hour doesn’t exactly present the most realistic view of the process. We see snippets of Chip and various other tradesmen at work on the house, but it’s not quite like actually going through the renovation (or doing it) ourselves.
And of course, I think we’d all agree that working for a period of time to achieve financial independence is WAY more satisfying than winning the lottery or coming into an inheritance. You get the joy of pursuing that FIRE goal and seeing it evolve and eventually come to fruition.
Fact is, change takes time. Lasting change, while it may start with a big “a-ha” moment and dramatic transition, really depends on daily commitment. Making the decision to do the healthy or smart thing, over and over and over again.
Three weeks into the new year, many have already abandoned New Year’s resolutions. Some days we feel awesome about the habit we’re fixing. Other days it’s all you can do to resist going back to the old ways. I myself have not remained perfect in my quest for a no-sugar January, although I’ve drastically decreased my sugar intake, so I guess that’s a partial win.
I just want to encourage you, if you’re feeling a little down about where you are in a journey, don’t give up. Whether you’re working to change a health habit, teach your kids a skill, find a new career path, or reach financial independence, it’s a long journey. Most of us can’t skip the montage, so let’s dig into the challenges of the journey.