LIFe Is StrAnger

Originally uploaded by FotoRita.
This might be more a movie review than anything else, but there are certain parts of the movie that made me feel like I was watching my own life on the big screen. I watched Stranger Than Fiction and I am still laughing. It’s about an OCD tax auditor named Harold Crick, played by Will Ferrell who starts hearing the narration of his life out loud…and eventually finds out that he is a character in an author’s story, and he is about to be killed off.

Aside from the brilliance of the writing – I mean sheesh, this is a movie for any wannabe writer if ever there was one; Not to mention a great film for an English Lit. class or Rhetoric course. But there is this point in the film when Harold is meeting with an English Professor to find out what kind of story he is in. For as Harold says,
“I feel like a character in my own story.” One of the primary things Harold needs to find out is if he is in a comedy or a tragedy. Anyone who recalls reading Shakespeare in high school knows that in a tragedy, the hero dies, but in a comedy the hero lives happily with some lover. What does Harold do? He caries a notebook to mark the moments in life, especially with the love interests, when something comedic or tragic happens – usually as a result of him opening his big mouth. By the end of the scene the “tragedy” column is chock-full and Harold proclaims, “I think I am living in a tragedy.” Yeah, I know there are moments when I tally up the numbers and come to a similar conclusion. The trick, though, is that we are characters in some story and just because we see the shit storms before us, doesn’t necessarily mean the story is a tragedy. The irony of Harold’s statement – and thus the definition of irony – is that it's comical, and he doesn’t see how very funny the story he is in actually is. Yet, anybody who gets myopic enough, takes themselves too seriously will conclude that all life is a tragedy, too.

Harold tries to figure out why the narrator of his life comes and goes, why there is silence at some points and why at others he can’t hear the person talking to him because the narrator is describing what he is thinking, as he thinks it. So, he consults the professor. Since the narration seems to come when he is doing something – or in other words, the plot thickens as he goes on with his life – the professor says, “Don’t do anything that may move the plot forward. Instead let’s see if the plot finds you.”

The result, Harold sits at home all day watching the Discovery channel – the channel that was left on when he fell asleep the night before – doesn’t answer the phone, doesn’t DO ANYTHING. It’s comical and painful to watch because it is very much the opposite of how I tend to live. I want to move the plot along…almost too eagerly. I want to find out where the story of my life is headed, so to wait for the plot to find me…well that’s torturous. All the same, the past few months feel very much like that. My life shifted in such a way that I could no longer “move the plot along” no matter how hard I tried. Now I, like Harold, find myself wondering if I have lost a few screws, but am reminded that sometimes it is better to let the plot find me. (Even though it is severely contrary to our American way of living).

Well, Harold’s “nothing” gets shattered when a Demolition Bucket crashes through his window, destroys half his apartment, and “steals” his TV in the process. As for me, nothing quite so loud, so utterly unexpected has come about just yet, and I still have all the walls to my apartment – though I never have owned a TV.

Since Harold has heard, early on, that he is going to die soon, he starts changing the way he lives his life. Stops wearing ties to work. Stops always counting numbers in his head. Forgets things. And chases the gal for whom he has the hots. I won’t spoil the rest of the film…you just have to see it.

I, on the other hand, only own two ties, and hardly wear them enough to recall how to put them on. I am dyslexic with numbers and thus nearly failed every math class in my life. And there are no gals I am chasing. As for the rest of the story, I still don’t know where it is going. If I look at my life as a tragedy, though, there is plenty of things current that would affirm it. Only, I laugh too much inside for me to only see tragedy. In a comedy, even the apparently tragic has a touch of humor in it.

There is a story. I am a character in it. There is a plot. And sometimes the Narrator tells me exactly what is going on. Other times there is silence. More though, I am found by the plot, not the other way around.

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