After watching the Academy Awards, I had to get myself out to see The Artist. I finally did so this past weekend and I have to say I loved it! Whether it was the nostalgic feel of an era lost to our culture today, or the incredible expressions that actor Jean Dujardin was able to create to share his happiness and his intense sorrow, or the sheer artistry of the movie itself, it was a joy to see.
Whatever the reasons we might like the movie, most of us can relate to the transition that has to be made when the work we’ve done our whole lives, no longer seems valuable to anyone. If we get to the age or stage when our expertise, once sought after, is no longer even appreciated, it ushers in an immense feeling of loss. It’s hard to remember why we spend so many years doing what we do if at the end it doesn’t really matter, or we’re just anachronistic, or simply out of the game. In some way, we all hit this wall one time or another. After all, it happens to moms who’ve spent their whole adult lives nurturing children, selflessly giving, and then suddenly finding themselves in an empty nest, their once important role, no longer needed. It happens to people who lose all they have to the stock market or through illness and then only focus on their limitations, forgetting what they can still do.
It happens in the technical world, every day, so that yesterday’s innovation, is almost obsolete by tomorrow. So what cue can we take from The Actor and our own starring life role. How can we prepare ourselves for the ever changing, often challenging transitions of life? The Actor did what we might do. He walked through the process from disbelief to denial, to total grief. He just couldn’t imagine that he could be left behind and yet the evidence mounted by the moment that he was no longer needed.
In the movies as in life though, options are given and people come along who help us reinvent ourselves, redefine our expertise in ways that bring new opportunities. We learn to either speak up or dance. The Actor just couldn’t bring himself to speak, but he knew what it meant to give the performance of his life, and so he danced. He danced his way into the hearts of a whole new audience, one that still needed him and opened its arms to him. The lesson then is this. The world is changing and we each have to make a choice, sit it out or dance. We can lament what was and live in the past, or we can take all our expertise, all our challenges, and all our God-given talent and learn to sing a new song or dance. It could be the greatest step we ever take. There’s always a new you waiting in the wings. What’ll it be? Reinvent the dance? You’re on!