So -- You're sitting there on the couch with your microwave popcorn and Diet Mountain Dew watching Rocky II. Right a t the perfect moment you hear the electrifying strains of Europe's "The Final Countdown" (only THE best "training montage theme" of all time.) Suddenly the 52" Panasonic is filled with inspiring images to match the rousing them: Rocky Balboa limping from his bed to the kitchen because his muscles are so sore, then on hold for 27 minutes with Mega Protein 3000 customer service trying to place an order, and then sitting in the Lazy-Boy watching Cosby Show re-runs because he can't get motivated to work out. Next we see Rocky at the dentist's office getting a root canal, then looking on line for a plumber who will make a service call on a Sunday because the water pipe he was using for chin-ups broke and water is spewing everywhere. Then it's a series of quick shots of him in the fitting room at Boxing Shorts Boutique trying to find the right silks that won't bind, but won't make him look too wide in the hips, ending in a tearful outburst as he exclaims, "Obviously designers just don't understand how REAL boxers are built!" We see him stuck in traffic, balancing his checkbook, folding laundry, flipping through TV channels, and holding two tickets to the outdoor concert and fireworks show staring out his window at the rainstorm. The climax is a twirling, dizzying shot of him lying in bed in the middle of the night frustrated because he can't sleep for the third night in a row. As the music fades we see the stunned look on his face as he watches in fear film of his opponent, Apollo Creed wondering, "What the h*** have I gotten myself into? There's no way I'll beat this guy."
Exciting? Inspiring? Encouraging? Invigorating? Probably not. But certainly... REAL.
No, that's not the training montage we LIKE to see. We want to see the shadow boxing, the meat locker punching bag, the weight lifting, the one-arm push-ups, the running on the beach, the victory dance at the top of the staircase. We want to see progress, success, overcoming the odds, mountain tops of achievement - the high points. We pretend like none of that other stuff happens: The frustrations, the mundane, the set-backs, the doubts, the defeats. Unfortunately: Those things happen during real life's "training montage".
Yes -- Stuck between the high points of progress and advancement is life -- just plain, real life. The kind of things that make us wonder if we'll ever reach our goals, no matter what kind they are: health, financial, home improvement, business, family, education... In the midst of your struggle,when you hit one of those unavoidable roadblocks, don't you often wonder, "How am I ever going to accomplish anything?" We compare ourselves to that training montage: 12 months of struggling though real life to accomplish a goal that has had the uninspiring stuff cut out and been condensed into 45 seconds and set to uplifting, heart-pounding music. We think of that and we feel like failures.
Well that's just dumb.
Here's what I'm going to do to try to change how I feel about that.
1. When I have a "montage moment", I'm going to recognize it, congratulate myself for it, enjoy it... shoot... maybe I'll set it to music and tell people about it. Montage moments: a busy week at the massage studio, pulling the "skinny jeans" up a little higher on my thighs, taking boxes of crap from the junk closet and throwing them into the dumpster, snuggling with my sweetie at the movie theater.
2. When I'm between "montage moments" and am enduring those times that wouldn't make it into the movie of my life, I'm going to remember that this is just "between time" on my way to another high point. I'll remind myself of the montage moments I've had in the past and envision what might be the next one coming up. The most effective cure for non-montage moments? Time. Yep. Just waiting. Doing the next thing. Cleaning up the mess. Resting. Whatever it takes. Patience.
3. The practical? Oh sure, I'll forget this advice when I need it at first and I'll get depressed and frustrated. I'll doubt and pout. But eventually I'll learn. Knowing that the best cure is time, how do we cope? What makes you feel good when you're down? For me, one thing is music. I've put together my own "montage music" playlist. Music player, earphones, vigorous walk outside or on the elliptical just might get me out of the funk for that day. Maybe for you it's watching a movie, talking to a friend, reading a passage from the Bible, eating at a favorite restaurant or getting a good night's sleep. Whatever it is, do it. That's my plan anyway. Maybe it will help you too.
Tell me some of your "montage moments" from the past year. Or tell me about your "between times" and how you got through them. There is strength to be found in the sharing.
And here. See if this doesn't inspire you.