You don't really know what you are living through until you go back and look at it from a wider lens. Part of what this blog is doing for me is allowing me to take a wide lens look at nearly a decade of my life and to see what was accomplished during that time.
What stands out to me is that a lot of it feels like a montage.
A montage is a trick filmmakers use when they need to convey time passing or repetitive events happening without having to show the entire event.
One example of this is the makeover montage in the classic art film The Princess Diaries. Princess Mia needs a makeover to become a princess. Anyone who has ever had a makeover, or even just an eyebrow wax, knows that these things take time. The director gives us a highlight of each of Mia's treatments and sets it to fun music with jokes interspersed here and there (the cucumber does nothing.)
In this way we are told that becoming a princess is a lot pf physical time and effort without actually having to go through that time and effort.
One example of a time passing montage is in the film New Moon, right after Edward leaves. In the book, Edward leaves and Bella sinks into darkness and says "I did not resurface." The next page says September. Following page: October. All the way until February. When I first read this I threw the book onto the floor. In the movie, they need to convey the time passing and the emotion in a more visual way. Therefore we get a sadness montage with cuts of Bella screaming into her pillow, sitting frozen on her chair, emailing a fake account, and feeling completely removed from her life.
We get five months in under a minute and are left with an understanding of what has occurred.
As I write up my own history and find themes and lessons, I am realizing that a lot of the middle is melding together. The first ten or so guys I remember well because of the effort I put into those dates emotionally. The next 40 blur into each other, except for the particularly egregious, funny, or hurtful moments.
And then I wonder what will be when I look back. Will I one day be surrounded by grandchildren (and probably pissed that all my kids came to see me at once when they know my love language is quality time and that their kids are far too loud) and think of this whole time as a blip, a montage that gets us to the next part of the story?
Or is this more of a sitcom, where daily frustrations are covered with careful detail and a laugh track, where we find lessons in the end, but the writers, high on their success, send the characters round and round through relationships and jobs and childbearing.
At least, if it is a sitcom, it's a successful one, sticking around for season after season.
Even if I were to get married tomorrow (weird because tomorrow is Shabbos, and a late Shabbos at that) maybe life would look like a series of montages anyway. The kid montage and the emotional high school angst montage, and the dating, and marriage and childrearing and bam: you're dead.
I imagine time will seem less repetitive if I have those meaningful relationships that I crave. I want the Princess Mia kissing in front of a water fountain to happen, the Bella saves Edward in Italy. Enough of the parts I can so easily skip through (if you skip the princess makeover montage you are dead to me.)
But even so, there are moments of great joy and pain now that can't be combined into a montage (yet.)
There will be those whether or not I get married.
There will be repetition that could be set to a pop song and fast forwarded.
They may even need to get a new actress to play me when this one starts to look too young.
I know what matters to me now and what has carried me through these difficult years. I hope I always find sources of strength no matter what the montage looks like.
Those are the parts worth slowing down for.