Tabula Rasa. It’s like the movie…

A movie is a story.  A story has purpose.  Fundamentally, a story is an interpretation of an event.  The study of philosophy is the study of how we interpret life.  (Hear the next sentence in the voice of the Architect from Matrix 2).  Ergo, a movie is philosophy.  With me?  Moving on.

My love for movies is a disease.  Say nearly anything to me and my next few words will likely be, “It’s like the movie…”  I’m actually very embarrassed by this when I meet new people these days.  (Obviously everyone else is just so busy and mature they have no time for fun…)  Lately though, I’ve decided to own it.  The following is an explanation of my decision.

People always ask me how I do it.  “For the love, Pete!  How do you remember so many movie quotes?”  Actually, that’s the second question in the conversation.  The first is usually, “What’s wrong with you?”  I’ve had some time to think about this.  The movie quoting that is; there is nothing wrong with me.  And here’s the truth.

Aristotle basically coined the concept of Tabula Rasa.  It means “blank slate.”  I first heard the phrase Tabula Rasa as a freshman in college.  I’ve been intrigued by it ever since.  It simply expresses the idea that we’re all blank to begin with, as in from birth.  Only through living do we fill up the blank slate and become who we are.  Surely you remember where you were on 9/11.  Why do you remember your location on a specific day over a decade ago, but not two years ago?  I’d argue you remember it because 9/11 was a surprise.  That’s the reason I remember movie lines so easily.  They are a surprise to me.  All of life is, but movies especially.  I watch movies as a blank slate. Do I know the good guys are going to win?  Will the guy get the girl?  Yes, yes.  Just like I know that I’m going to eat another meal soon.  But just because I’ve been right every day about my chances of eating again doesn’t mean that I don’t know with certainty what my next meal will be.  And that doesn’t mean I can’t immerse myself in a film and pretend that maybe, just maybe this time the bad guys will win and the story will end with something more gripping than the guy getting the girl.

Movies have so many lessons.  Any type of storytelling does.  As we talk, if you’ve seen the movie I’m referencing, our connection in this lifetime just grew.  If not, I hope you at least found my best attempt to reenact the scene enjoyable to witness.  Either way, our time together increased, and as a consequence our relationship deepened.  Maybe that’s why I do it.  Maybe I reference movies so much because it lengthens the conversation, consequently increasing our time together.  It’d be a sad world if you think I ought to be ashamed to admit that I want to spend more time with you.

The conclusion challenge:  If you can’t remember much, are you assuming too much?  Are you living life with a full slate?  How’s that working for you?  A blank slate is much more fun.  It’s like in the movie “Dumb and Dumber” when Jim Carey discovers 25 years after the fact, “No Way!  That’s great!  We landed on the moon!!”



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