Day 63, Movie Quote 6: “Fall Into Your Grave Grasping a Character You Never Were”

It’s Sunday morning and JP’s still in bed. The alarm wasn’t set this morning, so it’s no surprise to me that I was up sooner and that he just kept on snoozing. He needs the sleep and it’s clear my body is ready to take on today.

The past few months I’ve had client calls on Thursday night when I get home from night class and one Friday evening before it’s really Friday night. This week, I didn’t have calls with those clients, because when we check-in it’s designed around their schedules as well as mine – they’re both traveling. When this happens, it’s a little bit weird because now I have space in my schedule that I’m not used to, but it’s also exciting because I can get work done or do nothing if I choose. We did a combination both nights.

I finished medical micro lab reports 9 and 10…before getting an email from our professor that we now have an 11 and 12 to write, but I’ll do those this week after exams.

Quickly after 9 and 10 were written, JP and I looked at each other and asked what movie should we watch. We can be terrible at picking a movie. Between the two of us we have about 300+ DVDs and Blurays…then we have Netflix, HBOGo and a few other streaming services – we don’t have cable and if I need the news I go straight NBC News, newspapers web sites and the AP.

We had at least decided to narrow it down to a category – comedy. We scrolled and then found Man on the Moon with Jim Carrey from 1999. JP asked if this was the same on as the one on Netflix. Nope. The one on Netflix is a documentary interviewing Carrey about his experience filming Man on the Moon as well as footage from his behavior while filming.

We then decided we had to watch both.

So Thursday – Man on the Moon. And Friday – Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond.

I watch movies two ways. 1) I watch while doing other things so I have background noise to prevent it from being too silent in a room, but I end up drowning out the film because I’m so involved in what I’m doing over the film. 2) I watch with analyzing ears and get sucked in.

Man on the Moon pulled me in. It was a film that was funny until it wasn’t. Man on the Moon is about Andy Kaufman, who was an actor, performance artist and entertainer among other things. He was controversial. He was liked. He was hated. He was funny and he was an asshole – according to him these were just characters. He didn’t like comedy in the traditional sense and I think that’s what makes him great. What he believed to be funny may or may not fall onto the right person’s ear. Kaufman died when he was 35. The film has a cast of actors that actually knew Kaufman and in the film Jim & Andy, I learned that his family actually came to the set.

This film did make me laugh. It also made my jaw drop because I was in shock. JP said he was confused and it didn’t have a plot, but the film was the depiction of Kaufman’s life and I think that was the point. Kaufman had said in interviews he wanted to confuse people and keep them on their toes. He wanted to be unpredictable.

On Friday, we watched Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, which interviews Carey in the present day while cutting to footage from the filming days. Carrey’s acting style is best described as method acting where he tries to get as connected to the character as possible. During the filming of Man on the Moon he played all of his characters at all times. He played Andy. He also played Tony Clifton – a persona of Kaufman’s that he played regularly, but denied often. Carrey also played himself, sometimes. The footage of his behavior as these other characters when not filming, but just on set, made you forget who he was.

I enjoy Jim Carrey and I do think he’s a good actor, but seeing footage of how he portrayed these characters outside of the film and how people responded to him made you feel lost. As we were watching Jim & Andy, I was confused because I didn’t know what to expect from Carrey. In his present day interviews in the film, he explained how Kaufman’s work while he was growing up had shaped how he viewed comedy and being and a performer. Kaufman’s ability to put on characters without care allowed Carrey to take chances.

Carrey talks about his own parallels to Kaufman and how he felt when creating. He opens up and in a few moments almost breaks down.

Carrey said two things that stuck out to me in his interviews.

At some point when you create yourself to make it, you’re going to have to either let that creation go and take a chance on being loved or hated for who you really are, or you’re going to have to kill who you really are and fall into your grave grasping a character you never were.

This made my heart sink. Because sometimes this is how I feel and I think back and try to figure out when did this start meaning something. I’ve been blogging for about six years. This is my second web site. I’ve been sharing my journey that long. I’ve shared a lot of angles of it. I’ve shared a lot of my ideas – some of which now contradict each other because I know more now than I did before. But I’ve always shared in the most honest way possible. Does that mean that every single thing is written down or photographed? No, but I’m sure many think that’s the case.

This past year with some success and some failure, I’ve been working on hard on letting my creation go and taking the chance on being loved or hated, but trying to not let either impact how I do what I do. 

I still get messages saying people miss me on Instagram, but I think that shows the reliance we have on human connection even if it’s through a screen. I’ve written back and forth with people via email kind of like Pen Pals. I’ve made some good friends through social media because they didn’t treat me like more than I am, a person who tries to be healthy.

I look back and try to think when did I make the shift and allow the voices to get so loud that it was a force to tell me yes or no?

We see a lot of half-truths online and a lot of false-truths too – it’s hard to dig through it all.

The best we can do is tunnel our vision when necessary and move forward regardless.

The second thing Carrey said was more about how he specifically does acting, how he creates characters.

Where did this character come from? What is the dirt that the pearl is built around? And the pearl is the personality that you build around yourself as a protection against that thought: “If they ever find out that I’m worthless, if they ever find out that I’m not enough, I’ll be destroyed”.

While I try damn hard to be honest and not create characters, I do think aspects of me can be compartmentalized – Cristina as a competitor is not the same as Cristina who’s living a healthy life. Cristina the students is similar to Cristina the professional, but not the same as Cristina the coach.

I wrote the other day about being or feeling inadequate and I think that sentiment aligns with this from Carrey. We use aspects of ourselves to be protected, but we also use those same parts to shine out and add something to the world.There are other aspects we try to drown out so they’re less noticeable because we find them unimportant.

When I was working with my tutor yesterday, he was telling me about the schools he’s applying to – he’s 22 and is looking at bio-chem programs. We talked about his transfer application essays. I said I had helped a friend of ours from the honor society write some her application essays because she struggled to talk about herself in a way that highlighted how she can overcome challenges. I told my tutor – schools won’t find it interesting if you say that you have a disability, but they want to know how you took what life handed you and ran with it. They want to know how your deafness has made you a great leader for a student organization. They want to know how you overcame homelessness and survived and what that means for what kind of energy you want to put into the world – maybe not so hippy dippy in that regard, but they don’t care that you have ADD, a lot of people do, but they care about what that has meant for you as far as how you’ve developed into a person they want to have at their school.

In this sense, you need to show the pearl and you need to show some of the dirt.

I think with social media, I’ve been told I’m worthless enough times to last me a lifetime that I don’t need to worry so much if that’s a thought for others. I know it is. What I’m working on is how do I prevent myself from believing it. Many times when I tell you it’s going to be a good day – I’m reinforcing it for myself. When I’m telling you that I hope you have a productive day – I’m saying it to myself too.

I’ve felt destroyed, so I don’t necessary connect with what he’s saying here, but when I saw his face and heard the words come out of his mouth, I just sat there and stared and thought you can be on top of the world and still feel and fear worthlessness.

I’ve been asking a lot of questions lately – in my studies, to my tutor, to my professors, to JP, to my friends, to myself and to you, here are a few more.

Is what’s under the pearl so bad? Would you rather a life of happiness with falsehoods, or a roller coaster knowing truth?

❤ Cristina

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