As the realisation that his whole life was made up sets in, Truman faces a choice: break free, or remain trapped in an existence manufactured by someone else. It’s the same choice you face. The same choice I face. We can exist in a world and a life constructed by the situations and circumstances of our situation, or we can live our real lives. Stark, I know, but true all the same. This clip will show you what I mean …
The Truman Show is a movie that captures the whole struggle – from blissful ignorance through to painful awareness through to decision time – with alarming poignancy. As Truman’s ignorance of his true plight slips away to be replaced by a dawning realisation of the true horror of what his life has been, he asks ‘Was nothing real?’. What follows is a dialogue that, in a few brilliant lines, cuts right to the lie that stands between so many of us and the lives we are supposed to be living.
Cristof (the creator of Truman’s world) replies ‘You were real, that’s what made you so good to watch.’ In an attempt to convince Truman to remain in his construct, Cristof adds ‘There is no more truth out there than in the world I created for you. Same lies, same deceit, but in my world you have nothing to fear.’ In desperation, as Truman waivers on the brink of departure, he follows up with ‘I know you better than you know yourself. You are afraid, that’s why you cannot leave.’
But Truman does leave (sorry for the spoiler, if you haven’t seen the movie) and, as the credits roll and the curtains close, his parting message says it all: ‘I knew this show was fake from the start, it was my incredible acting that fooled everyone’.
‘I knew this show was fake from the start.’ It’s true, isn’t it? Deep down, we know that the world we have been trapped in is fake. So we fake it, too. And it is our incredible acting that fools everyone (including ourselves).
But the battle against reality never goes away. Because it’s like Cristof told Truman: the only thing that is real in this fake existence that has been constructed for you, the only thing that is real is YOU.
In all of the lies and deception that provide the framework of that existence to which you have become accustomed – the lies that tell you that in this world you have nothing to fear, in this world its creators know you better than you know yourself, and that you will find nothing better – no fewer lies, no less deceit – in what lies outside this world, there is one thing that is true: you.
And because there is that one truth – because, in spite of everything, the real you, while hidden, remains alive, that sense that this is not how it is meant to be gnaws at your soul. And, each time that sense threatens to cut loose and reveal the truth, you find excuses to stay hidden in the lie.
Excuses about how you are where you are. About how you are in too deep to climb out now. How you know what you know, and you can do what you can do, and you just have to live with that. Excuses about how you are over the hill, your ship has sailed, the train has left the station. Excuses that convince you that you have simply left it too late to bring about anything different from how things are right now.
And it’s the sense that ‘I’ve left it too late’ that, before it even gets inflated, sticks a pin in the balloon that is the quest into your best self. Any prospect of undertaking that adventure has long since disappeared.
Only, it HASN’T disappeared.
You see, it’s NEVER too late to become the person you are meant to be. To truly become the star of the show.
Sure, you may have more plates to spin, and more balls to juggle, than you did back before you got all grown-up and responsible, but here’s the thing: when you discover who you REALLY are, spinning those plates, and juggling those balls, gets a whole heap easier.
And, guess what? As the plate spinning and ball juggling gets easier, so your capacity to throw yourself into the adventure of becoming your best self – the adventure in which you were, are and always will be the star of the show – increases; which makes spinning plates and juggling balls EASIER STILL. And so it goes around – a kind of virtuous circle.
So, as you stand at the top of the stairs, facing that same choice Truman faced – ‘Do I go through the door – the door to an adventure I can’t even begin to imagine, an adventure that has risks and rewards beyond my comprehension – or do I remain trapped in this existence, which, as uncomfortable as it is, has become oddly comforting and reassuring?’ Or, to put it another way, do you choose existence, or do you choose life?’
No-one can make that choice for you – it is the choices other people made for you that got you here in the first place – but know this: you always have more choices than you think you have and, whatever you choose, it is never too late to live your real life.