"Mike's life:" a moviewise-style series review
INTERIOR MIKE’S OFFICE NIGHT
MIKE, a nearly 80 year-old man sits in front of his Apple Macbook Air, typing. The POV is where his head would be. As he types the camera moves from the screen to the keyboard, to the room around him and back. Occasionaly he pauses and the plane of focus changes from the screen to the reflection of his head and the room behind him.
He stares at the keyboard for a minue, then starts typing. As he types, these words appear on the sceen
“Mike’s Life, August 25, 2022,
He new tab opens on the screen and he types
And the answer appears
He closes the tab and continues typing
“Mike’s Life, August 25, 2022, Episode 29,093 (Season 80)
The camera narrows its focus to those words, then blurs and zooms in, and we realize that until a moment ago we had been seeing things from MIKE’s point of view as he writes the blog, but instead are A READER OF THE BLOG, seeings from YOUR own point of view, in YOUR UNIVERSE, NOW.
YOUR UNIVERSE, NOW
moviewise is a substack that I read. I’ll let moviewise describe itself:
moviewise catalogues the life lessons found in films. Why? Because “meaningful movies help people cope with life’s difficulties”
This line appeared in what may have been draft 3,243,399 of this post.
Yesterday, in Episode 29,075, Mike started writing a post titled: “‘Mike's Life’ a moviewise-style series review.”
FLASHBACK (V.O. MIKE)
The original idea was to write a post as a moviewise-style review of my life as though it was a drama series on a streaming platform. I was going to write about the fact that it was streaming—if only in my stream of consciousness; that I’d didn’t remember when I started watching it; that I didn’t know its name because I’d never seen opening titles for any episodes; that I didn’t know who had produced it because I’d never seen closing credits. I was going to say that the central character was named “Mike Wolf” and that the series seemed to be based on my life.
I kept not finishing it.
INTERIOR MIKE’S OFFICE NIGHT
Back to the original POV, Mike’s hands are poised over the keyboard. He types a few characters, deletes the. Types a few more deletes them. Then a pause and he writes the words “Back to the original POV—-”
The focus blurs and we zoom into the screen and again you realize that you are A READER OF THE BLOG.
YOUR UNIVERSE, NOW
You continue reading
moviewise watches high-quality movies, learns life lessons, and shares the lessons with me. (And you, too if you click and subscribe to moviewise.)
A few days ago, moviewise published this summary of the best. Worth reading to see the kinds of lessons you can learn.
Most people don’t learn much from movies. Sometimes it’s because there’s nothing to learn beyond: “If you spend $100 million, you can blow a lot of shit up for an hour and a half and make a billion dollars in box office receipts.” But mostly, it’s because most people watch movies to be diverted or entertained, but not to learn things.
moviewise shows it’s possible to watch movies differently: to seek out movies that teach life lessons, think about what the lessons might be, and then write to clarify them. Because writing is thinking and thinking is hard.
I see movies differently, too. Sometimes I wake up when I’m watching a movie. Sometimes I see the reality behind the movie. Sometimes, I see my life as a movie.
HELIX “GOD’S EYE” NEBULA
Enough,” I imagine the God that I imagine saying. “You wanted My help finishing this post. Here it is. Stop going back and forth betwen the movie script POV and the blog post. Just f*cking finish what you’ve written.
MIKE wakes up and finishes writing about waking up while watching a movie. Seeing the reality behind the movie. Seeing his life as a movie.
Waking up while watching a movie
Reading Sam Harris’s book “Waking Up” (my review is here) was a life-changing event for me. (Technically, every event is life-changing. I wrote how we could use our ability to change the world using our minds.)
In this other post, I described how Sam Harris explained the experience people seek through meditation: a new awareness of reality he calls “waking up.”
Imagine you're in a theater, watching a movie. You are immersed in the story. Your attention is captured. You are emotionally engaged. Then suddenly you realize that you're sitting in a theater, surrounded by other people, watching light projected on a screen. A moment ago you were entranced -- in a trance. Now, for a moment you are in a different state. You're still aware of the story that's still playing out on the screen--but you are also aware that you are outside that story. You are not in the story, but watching it. That particular spell is broken.
We can have that same experience in our non-movie-watching lives. I did, anyway. And I keep having similar experiences in which I realize that I’ve been living my life in a trance, and the spell is broken. I’m not just aware, but aware of being aware and how glorious it is to be awake and aware.
Sam Harris quotes Joseph Goldstein, who says:
"Most of us spend every waking moment lost in the movie of our lives."
And it’s possible to wake up from that movie, too.
The reality behind the movie
Movies are illusions. Intellectually, we know that. Still, we fall for the illusion. But, then, when we “wake up in the movie theater,” we step far enough out of the illusion to see the theater and the audience—more real than the illusion—and not just the illusion.
But sometimes, when I wake up in a movie (or TV show), I take another step back and imagine the reality that created the illusion. For example, last night Bobbi and I were watching “The Fugitive,” one scene takes place during a keynote session for a medical conference in a large hotel.
Someone had to set that up. Someone had to hire the extras, decide what they would wear, get them organized and positioned on set, and give them direction. What unfolds as a minute of the movie took weeks to plan and many hours to shoot, reshoot, re-reshoot, then hours to edit into its final form.
Once in a while, as I’m watching a scene, I’m aware of all that.
And I’m aware of everything that went into this moment, this one right now. It’s happening, but it didn’t just happen.
Waking up: the movie of my life
A few days ago, moviewise wrote a review for “Pretty in Pink.” It started this way:
That inspired me to write:
After watching hundreds of movies, and thousands of episodes of television and streaming series, the character that I relate to most is the central character in the the lead in the show that streams in my stream of consciousness, a series I’ll call “Mike’s Life.”
In Episode 29,075 of “Mike’s Life,” Mike started writing a post titled: “‘Mike's Life’ moviewise-style series review.” But, unfortunately, he didn’t finish it until this episode, 29,093. And maybe not then.
In the real world, I did the same. This kind of thing happens a lot.
moviewise learns life lessons from movies. So do I. But every life lesson I’ve learned has come from watching and thinking about “Mike’s life.” The movies that I’ve watched and learned from aren’t stand-alone events. They’re just a series of scenes in “Mike’s Life.”
“Mike's Life” is a “coming of age“ story punctuated by flashbacks, fantasies, voice-overs, monologs, and dream sequences. I often hear a voice (thoughts in Mike’s stream of consciousness) commenting on what is happening or describing what Mike is thinking about. Usually, the voice murmurs in the background about something unrelated or even irrelevant.
Scenes in the main arc and some flashbacks are shot from a first-person perspective. Sometimes the images are super-crisp and occasionally blurry. Sometimes the scene starts to go dark. I usually fall asleep when that happens.
In Season 71, Episode 25,569, Mike starts writing a blog he calls “70 Years Old WTF.” As the seasons go on, he writes hundreds of posts. By Season 79, Episode 28,522, he’s gotten so annoyed at the blogger interface that he downloads his posts and uploads them to Substack. He continues to write there.
In Season 79, Episode 28,728, moviewise appears in “Mike’s Life” for the first time.
And here you are in today's episode.
“Me?” I imagine a moviewise asking,
“Me!” I imagine a reader exclaiming.
“Both of you,” I imagine saying. “All of you,” I say as I imagine more than two people reading.
“You’re in this episode for a reason,” I imagine the God that I imagine telling all the imaginary people. “And in today’s episode of your own life. There are life lessons in both places for you to learn.”
“What is it?” I imagine some imaginary readers asking.
“OMG! OMG! OMG!” I imagine some other imaginary readers saying, as they imagine that they realize my imaginary God’s life lesson.
Read more about imaginary things. Or click the button and imagine you’ve subscribed.
Click and imagine
Wow! Congratulations on your 29,093 day! That's a lot of days, and a very vivid, concrete way to express life that I've never seen before. It makes you appreciate the steady growth of it all.
To paraphrase a quote from the 1994 film "Forrest Gump," life is like a movie. You never know what you're gonna get—but I hope it's a comedy.
I also hope to wake up to the realities of the universe by discovering true wisdom, and I believe bits of it are revealed in some movies. At the very least, I think movies allow us a moment to focus on these questions before we have to get up and complete the mundane chores that comprise much of our lives. Perhaps that part gets a bit repetitive and may feel like we are in a trance. A break then is all we need to wake up.
And a break from the norm really wakes you up! Imagine going about your day and getting a notice that you've influenced someone else, that you've made an impact. On day 28,728 of someone else's life, you were noticed. And isn't this all we ever want? Don't we live so that we can feel that we mattered to someone else, for a moment at least, and that we affected someone in a positive and productive way?
So thank you Mike's Life for clarifying what life is all about.