I’ve watched the talented Mr. Ripley about a million and a half times in the past almost twenty years since it came out in 1999 (I added this last part of information just to make you feel old). The story never changes but it’s an incredible one. Man from lower middle class (Tom Ripley played by Matt Damon) falls in love with the lifestyle of a young, stylish, having-it-all, rich man (Dickie Greenleaf played by Jude Law) who seems to have everything. They go on a magical journey together until Tom can’t take it anymore and (spoiler! – although I won’t tell you how, in case in the last twenty years you haven’t had a chance to watch the movie yet, if not, you really should though) Tom becomes Dickie.
There is so many good things to say about the movie, but there is one line in the movie that has stuck with me from the very first time I’ve seen the movie. It’s when Tom and Dickie’s girlfriend Marge Sherwood (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) sit on the deck of a small sailing boat and she says to Tom, “The thing with Dickie… it’s like the sun shines on you, and it’s glorious. And then he forgets you and it’s very, very cold. (…) When you have his attention, you feel like you’re the only person in the world, that’s why everybody loves him so much.”
I always told myself that I wouldn’t be like that, like the sun that is, dedicating all my attention to one thing (or person) and forgetting that the rest of the world exists. But see, that is exactly, 100% the way I am. I will go full force 100% on a single tiny thing (usually something I can’t change) and tend to forget that there is a million other things I could worry about, but that one thing will keep me up at night, when other things (especially things that I could actually do something about) don’t bother me. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember and have yet to find a way to break out of my sun-coldness-cycle. I usually tell myself it’s temporary, but honestly (especially when I am honest with myself), if it’s not one thing, it’s another, that’s just how I am.
But recently, I came to a grand realization: if your sun doesn’t shine equally on everything, nothing will grow. Now, I won’t give you a biology lesson, but you catch my drift, you need sun (and rain and clean air and rain worms and all the good stuff) to grow almost anything. The same goes for mental health, for physical well-being, love lives, anything really and that’s also the difficult part. Mother nature has and (amazingly) continues to have this natural balance, while the sun rises in the east and enables the growth of everything (when we as human beings can’t even function without a cup of coffee in the morning, but that’s a different story). And here I am, trying to do the same for my life, for my goals, for my future and realizing that it’s all not that simple.
Honestly, I have no idea how to accomplish that, how to equally shine light on all parts of my life. Do I make time blocks? Do I set target goals? Do I make monthly time sheets where I painstakingly list all my doings? I really don’t know (and am open for suggestions), but I can tell you what I have been doing to at least move towards a healthy life-balance direction: I walk outside every day, in sunshine, rain and (still) snow and take a deep breath in, close my eyes and let go. It’s not much, but it’s like when the first ray of sunshine after the brutal winter is finally strong enough to make you feel warm and fuzzy.
The next few years are going to be crazy (and I promise in a few weeks I will be able to share the good news), but I am also excited that I finally get to shine my sun on a new chapter of my life (our lives, really, A and me that is). A chapter that will require a lot of hard work, a lot of late nights and crazy adventures, a chapter where I finally (and hopefully) break free from my personal Mr. Ripley rendition and become a glorious sun that can shine on many things at once.
My point is, don’t be afraid of the sun, don’t be afraid of what may unfold when you allow yourself to shine brightly, you will be amazed! Be yourself, take all the time you need and don’t be fooled by whatever other people may do that seem extraordinary (to bring it back full circle to Mr. Ripley). It may not be easy, it may not be fast, and it will definitely be cold and dark, but once you managed to actually allow yourself to grow, you will see how glorious you actually are in all the right ways!