Don't take yourself too seriously.

This is one of the rules I live by.  

One of my favorite actors as a child was Jim Carrey. I loved The Mask and Ace Ventura and all of his weirdest films. I don't know if you've been following him lately, but he's either going off the deep end -OR- there's something we all can learn from him as he explores territory that many of us are afraid to explore. We cling to the ideas we have been taught about who we are and why we're here and can be afraid to confront the fact that in the end - I mean deep down - our perception of the world... it's all just ideas. 

Here's a quote from Carrey in a recent interview:  

"I know now he does not really exist. He’s ideas … Jim Carrey was an idea my parents gave me. Irish-Scottish-French was an idea I was given. Canadian was an idea that I was given. I had a hockey team and a religion and all of these things that cobble together into this kind of Frankenstein monster, this representation. It’s like an avatar. These are all the things I am. You are not an actor, or a lawyer. No one is a lawyer. There are lawyers, law is practiced, but no one is a lawyer. There is no one, in fact, there."

Whoa, slow your roll, Jim. Let's unpack this. 

Who am I? I'm Stephen Garrett - a name I was given before I took my first breath on this Earth. I emerged in the very very late 1970s in a small town in South Carolina where I was immersed in a sea of azalea bushes beneath live oaks draped in Spanish moss - into a culture that taught me certain ways of seeing the world. Over the years I've come to accept certain things about that culture - and other things I can never accept. Everything that that culture is built on is just ideas. Ideas that have been influenced by and adapted to a physical landscape, to be sure - but ideas that have crafted that landscape and built it into a human geography that feedback loops into human identities. 

I've agreed - we've agreed - to call me Stephen. I have a story about where I came from and that helps me make sense of where I'm sitting right now. And I'm glad to be here for as long as I can trying to make sense of this life. 

But let's face it - it's hard to be a human being and we're all just stories immersed in stories. These stories make us who we are. At the same time, none of us should think for a moment that stories can't be changed. You don't like a law? What is it about a law that we think is immutable? It's ideas that became stories that affect and govern how others interact and think.

But it's not gravity.

It's not inertia.

It's thoughts in minds or words on paper.

Things that "have always been this way" haven't really, have they?

If something that's "always been this way" hurts other human beings, and makes their stories horror stories - then is it not our duty to break out our damn erasers and edit the parts of the stories we've been taught to make them better and more just? 

In all of this complexity... in all of this life, I will never stop reimagining the stories that I've been taught. And at the same time, I will never take myself too seriously. 

I think this is what Carrey is trying to say.

What really are you but a short footnote in a story that's many many millennia in length at this point?

We're all just part of a connected network that together is writing new chapters for future humans to be indoctrinated into.

If something is wrong about the story we've been taught - we are writing it together. We can change it together. 

But it's more fun if we can laugh a little along the way. 

Read more:



Stephen Garrett