Friday, February 25, 2005


I want to address comments made long ago, in response to "The Elevator Post" and another, less noticeable post. You see, I live a crazy and adventurous life. At least, compared to most people out there I live a crazy and adventurous life. This post is meant to do one thing: recommend it.

Now, before I say anything further, I need to acknowledge that, although most of my adventures are probably in some way caused directly by my own antics, a good amount of my experiences are quite random accidents of fortune. Getting stuck in an elevator, for example, had little to do with me - it was just a factor of being in the right place, at the right time (and bouncing up and down on my toes as the elevator climbed (for the record, I was lightly bouncing and I think that may have had something to do with it, but it was nowhere near the level of movement which should cause an elevator to stop suddenly - so basically, it wasn't my fault)). However, setting the cause of the events aside, the biggest part of my shaping my life as an adventure has nothing to do with the actual events. It has to do with my attitude and my approach to those events.

The best way to explain my approach, I think, is to say that I live my life as if it were a movie. Maybe others would claim they too could see their life as a movie, or that there is nothing so unique about my life that could be considered movie-quality. But even if others take a similar approach I feel that there is truly something unique about the way I come at the world. This may be a little hard to describe, but I'll give it a shot:

Certain things happen in movies that don't normally happen in real life. The protagonist meets his partner only a week before the dance-off and they execute perfectly, earning a standing ovation. The comedic relief swings a hammer into his own forehead. Two people in love dance in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. The bumbling kid manages to lose the only hotel key to the room where he and two young ladies are staying.

Now, none of those things really sounds so unique, but they do certainly all sound like movie-moments. Each one of them has been lived by me. And there are many more I could list. But the point isn't the catalog of movie-esque moments - the point is that at the moment each of those things happened I realized it was a movie moment. I jumped into the experience as if I were playing the perfectly scripted character. I savored every element of each. Even when I was kicking myself for losing a hotel key I knew I would be able to love that I had that experience. Even while I was dancing with Laura in Piccadilly Circus I knew we'd look back at it and be so happy that we had done that.

This idea of backwards reflection might be a bit misleading, because I was always living very much in the moment. I wasn't thinking "hey, I'll look back on this and laugh." I wasn’t really thinking anything, except whatever thoughts were going through my head at the moment. When I talk about this as backwards reflection I mean only that I removed myself from the temporal aspect of the experience. And in this way I think there is a unique "movie" aspect to my life. If you watch movies you'll probably find that there are often things which you look at and say "that would be an awesome experience." The point is to recognize those experiences as they happen; not to recognize that they are awesome experiences or even that they are the type of experience that could be in a movie, but rather to recognize that they are the awesome experiences which make up your movie. The type of reflection isn't one of backwards-looking, but rather of self-watching.

Perhaps this idea is still a little elusive, and so instead of continuing to talk about experiences I want to shift to the idea of opportunities. Often times these "movie moments" are a product of creation - the protagonist (you in your life, me in mine) has chosen a certain route which has brought about the experience. An example might help:

A little over a year ago I proposed to Laura. I wasn't sure how I wanted to go about it - I'd heard of some very cool ideas, and it seems lots of people have good set-ups. But going into the proposal I knew that this was precisely the type of thing which would make for a movie moment (think big romantic gesture from whatever chick-flick you want). I also was aware that I would only propose once in my life, so I wanted to make sure it was perfect; there was no way I was going to have a "nice, quiet, romantic" proposal. I wanted big. I wanted extravagant. I wanted Romantic with a capital "R". I wanted to know that I'd given it my all, that anyone would be hard-pressed to come up with a more perfect proposal (I'll grant that maybe it could be done, but it would require a huge step, like moving the whole event to Paris or something). In short, I wanted to know that I would have a proposal like you'd see in a movie. (When I put "I" into this context it all applies to Laura too - I wanted her to have the ideal proposal too. I'm madly in love with her and think she deserves all the best, and then, even after she has all the best, God should make some things which are even nicer than best and give them to her)(or give them to me so I can give them to her).

Anyways, I was faced with a choice: how to propose. I chose big. I chose to propose like a proposal in a movie would go. I cooked (with help) an elaborate dinner. I hired violinists. I had a trail of roses. I had a private "restaurant" set-up, complete with wait-staff. I managed to get Laura into fancy dress clothes without her knowing the event was coming. I informed most of her family and friends and still managed to keep it a complete secret for a month. I even got her an extension on the due date for a paper. I spared no detail.

The thing I'm trying to get at here is pretty simple: I basically said "hey, what the hell?" (not in a baffled sense but rather in a “why not?” sense), and went for it. I saw an opportunity to make life like a movie and I did my best to capture it. Unfortunately I know that many times, maybe even most, this isn't the case.

How many times have two people, who would have been perfect for each other, fallen short of getting together because of some reason or other? That wouldn't happen in the movies (other than Annie Hall perhaps). In the movies those two people would somehow know that it was supposed to work out, and they'd both figure out a way to get over whatever obstacle there was, and it would be happily ever after. But not in real life.

In the movies, after the couple finally gets together, at the end of the flick, they're always seen together in some famous place, dancing or embracing, or some other such romantic expression. Not in real life. The whole time I've been in D.C. I have never seen two people wrapped in a romantic embrace, or dancing, or what-have-you, in front of some scenic monument. Nor when I lived in Rome. Or Athens. In fact, the only people I know who have had a movie moment like that are Laura and me. That sort of thing just doesn't happen in real life.

And I think that's a problem. I think that real life needs to be like the movies. Whether you're seizing the opportunities or creating them yourself.

When two people are perfect for each other they should just simply decide to transcend whatever obstacle they have, and live happily ever after. When an opportunity faces people, they need to take it. Don't look around and wonder what people will think if you start dancing, with no music, in the middle of the square. Just do it. People should live big. They should relish every moment - whether they're cracking their heads open with a hammer or being stuck in an elevator or proposing.

This life is your movie. Live a Best Picture.


CAL said...

Oh yeah.

emnovak said...

i so want eric to propose to me in paris now, just so I can say it was a more romantic proposal. ha.

Matthew B. Novak said...

First of all, why are you assuming that Eric will be proposing to you? Why not some other guy? Why not you proposing to him? Etc.

Also, just having it in Paris isn't enough to make it more romantic - it would have to be all of the same stuff, or similiar stuff, but pulled off over there.

emnovak said...

why not eric? you have something against him? i mean, why did you propose to laura?

Matthew B. Novak said...

I don't have anything against Eric, I'm just saying, you sure sounded a little over-certain that he would be proposing to you.

Laura Guetter said...

So Emily, are you saying you have something against me?

emnovak said...

yep laura, that's exactly i still get to wear my red dress for your wedding?

Laura Guetter said...

I don't know...are you sure you can still fit into it?