One of my favourite films of all time is Weir’s ‘The Truman Show’. Starring Jim Carrey, the film revolves around the life of Truman Burbank. Truman is unaware that from birth he has been the star of a reality TV show, and everything around him, his parents, his wife, his town, his job, in fact his entire life, is fake. The film was first broadcast in cinemas in 1998. I was lucky enough to watch it screened in a picture house in London when it was first released. It is an amazing film that predicted our mass obsession with both reality television, and to some extent, social media.
We could argue that we are all Truman Burbank. How many of us have wandered through life, making decisions, big decisions, such as our careers, our choice of spouse, where we are going to live, based not on our hearts, but on what we feel society expects us to do? How many of us are frightened of changing our path, preferring the comfortable choice, despite our unhappiness, rather than the right one? Christof, the director of the show, says “We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented”. For those super-intelligent amongst you, I am going to link Christof’s words with the Greek philosopher Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’. Plato says that we are scared of living a genuine, authentic life, and we are not living our lives in the moment, or experiencing reality. Instead, we are all living in a cave, suspended to the ceiling by our arms, facing the back of the cave, viewing shadows of the real world, rather than the reality which actually exists.
To prevent us viewing our life as shadows we need to be mindful, attempting to live and experience every moment in the present, rather than looking back on the past, daydreaming, or worrying about the future. We need to pursue happiness and authenticity rather than ruminating, solve problems rather than worry about them. Truman managed to confront his fears: end his marriage, escape, and live an authentic life with the woman that he loved. He chose to risk death to gain freedom, despite being offered a comfortable and stress-free life free from fear. We can all be more like Truman. Let’s learn from him and live authentic lives rather than ones filled with sadness and regret.