Thursday, 25 August 2011

Lesson: Patience

I explained the virtues of Friends to an age appropriate friend this afternoon.  Although conceivably difficult to imagine, I don't recall having explained these virtues before.  Let me take a moment now to rehash my explanation...

Those of us currently in our 20s have more than likely seen Friends enough through syndication to feel we know their stories inside and out. (Like my friend today insisted.) When you watch it from Season One to Season Ten, however, there are many lessons to learn from the characters as they matured through such an important part of everyone's life: their twenties.

Ah, the twenties!  The seeedbed of the Quarter Life Crisis.  (I find it odd that after three odd years of keeping this blog, I've never wiki'd the term.  It's quite interesting and applicable: read more here.)  After discovering those first few layers of the onion through adolescence, it is now time for the individual to meet the "Real World."  In doing so, more layers of that onion are revealed, .... and crisis ensues.

Friends begins with the six main characters all having established lives, faced with their own struggle to overcome.  There is the recently divorced palaeontologist, the romantically-challenged sexually-liberated sous chef, the new age aura-cleansing massage therapist (who doesn't really struggle until further in the series), the data processing wizzard who wishes he had a calling (but doesn't find it until nearly the last season), the actor (struggling is inevitably implied) and the girl who arrives, soaked from the rain, in a wedding dress.  This girl - Rachel Green - is the most screwed up, but becomes the most sophisticated, put-together character by the end of it all.  She is often the example I use in my head to know that things will get better.  Life will start to go in my favour.  This crisis, too, shall pass.

The series begins with the characters all approximately my age and completely lost.  It concludes, ten years later, with their lives more figured out, many tears shed along the way, but many many more laughs.  This, I believe is not only why I love this show, but why it did so well.  Although I am often laughed at for referring to my "Quarter Life Crisis," it does too exist.  It is easy to dismiss it as "your twenties" but the labelling of a crisis is always much more dramatic (and I do love the Drama of it all).

When I hit my low points, I put season one into the DVD player, and begin watching.  Occasionally I'll skip several episodes and go directly to The One with The Magic Beans (not the real title).  Rachel has only just begun to figure out how to serve coffee (but failing miserably at it, still) when her friends from her last life appear.  The "catching up" visit is cut short when they ask her: "so, when are you gonna give this up and come on home?"  Almost immediately, she realizes how much she gave up to pursue her true calling and it terrifies her.  She comes home to Monica and Phoebe having a margarita-infused slumber party, grabs the recently blended alcoholic beverage still in the blender, and begins to vent about her bad luck.  Within mere minutes, all three are depressed, feel completely lost in their life journey, and have no idea where they will end up.  THIS is a Quarter Life Crisis moment.

The beauty of television shows is that everything gets wrapped up within a 22-minute time-slot.  Of course, their hopes are not restored.  Phoebe's suggestion that Rachel is like Jack, who traded his cow (the life he loved) for some magic beans) fails to reassure all three young women with the despair that Rachel's crisis has created.  But, the seed (pardon the pun) had been planted.  They bond, as women do on tv, by watching (from their infamous balcony) a sexy politician take home a date. Stories of failed relationships, the possibility of dating their male friends, and regular chit-chat improve all of their moods and they are able to move pass this crisis test.  The next day, on the phone with the credit card company, Rachel has found her confidence once again and tells the company, watching her new friends play Twister and enjoy life, that everything is just fine, she's found her Magic Beans...

And that is not far from reality.  We cannot solve our problems by dwelling on them.  Venting about them is fine.  We allow others to know our grief, but then we must move on, trusting that everything will work out in the end.

What is far from reality is the time in which everything gets resolved.  For weeks, I have been waiting for my current dilemma to resolve itself.  I have meditated.  I have brainstormed solutions. I have sought advice from my friends.  But nothing has truly seemed to go in my favour until this week.  Things are starting to come together.  The universe shines in my favour once again.  And I am almost ready to tell the credit card company that "everything is okay.  I've found my Magic Beans."  Not yet, though.  There are still many things left to worry about.  Many other things to put into place.  Much work is left to do.  And trust me that the episode in which this all gets resolved has lasted much longer than 22 minutes!

Isn't that beautiful, though?

I remember when I used to watch television shows on a television network rather than on DVDs.  The show began, I was entertained for a half hour (with breaks), and then it was over for another week.  With DVDs, every evening I can sit down and watch a full year's worth of those short entertainments. Having to wait to find out what happens is no longer a problem.  But, I have missed out on a lot of those characters development.  To condense a week into 22 minutes is quite difficult.

Life shouldn't be condensed that way.  Those afternoons we spend sitting in the sunshine would have been editted out of any sitcom.  That run of customers we chatted with about the run we were doing in a few months time would have been shortened into a four sentence quip about curious minds while sharing my day in the coffee shop with my friends.  Those are precious moments, often eliminated from fiction for the purpose of flow.  And, I should be okay with that...

And one day, I will be.  One day, I'll be patient, look back and know that I got out of that last crisis, I'm sure I can get out of this crisis, too....

No comments: