I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my character—who I am and who I want to become in the future. The whole self-image struggle has been real as I enter this new phase of life. Shortly after having the wedding, the questions started rolling in…”So where are you going to live?” “Are you moving back to Minnesota yet?” “Buying a house?” “When’s the baby to be expected?” Okay, no. Just no to all of that nonsense! I got married. My twentysomething life can still happen child-less and without a mortgage thank you very much!
It’s not that I don’t want to have a house of my own, or kids running around, but right now is not the right time. I’ve got a whole future ahead of me and I’d like to establish some of it before I have to teach kids how to behave and pay off endless amounts bills the rest of my life. I suppose that’s the normal way of living for most people, but I’m not most people now am I?
A friend came around on Saturday and what was mainly supposed to be coffee and a chat, turned into fours hours of deep conversation. We discussed everything from my husband’s films this year to films in general to family to everything that has to do with puppets. When our friend (a puppeteer by profession), who at the time was explaining the art of puppetry starting with design to the building process, then ending with rehearsal and performance, a thought sparked in my mind. I never recognized how similar our lives can be to a puppet’s life. Like a puppet, we all have our own purpose in life, our own journey to follow. Okay, I know I’m talking about an object, but just let me explain…
A Puppet’s Way of Life
Step One: Design
In order to create a puppet, one must come up with some sort of design concept. A doddle if you will. That way the creator of a puppet has an understanding of what the puppet will do in order to achieve its purpose. Growing up we are designed and shaped by our family and friends in preparation for the real world. We inherit traits from our parents that help us discover what our purpose is in our own lives.
Step Two: Build
Building a puppet from scratch with only a doddle can be challenging. The building process will have its kinks and there are obstacles a creator must tackle when making a new puppet. This part of the process is where we should give the most time and love toward. This is the point in which we, as adults, get a say in who we are and who we want to become in the future. We can be anyone. As we build our characters, our personalities, even our lifestyles, each day we incorporate our designs and build our hopes and dreams for a full life.
Step Three: Rehearse
The puppet is ready to test out. A puppeteer gets to know the weight of the puppet, the personality of the puppet and the mechanics of how the puppet moves. It’s the rehearsal process that allows time of discovery in all our unique characteristic and traits. In the comfort of being in our own skin, we learn more about ourselves as we get wiser with practice. Rehearsal is a joyful time of play, but also a time to gain a good knowledge of what our presence means in the world.
Step Four: Perform
The final step of life is to perform. A puppet takes the stage and shines in all its silly glory. It has learned the value of emotion, the art of charisma and discovered his/her true character. Like a puppet, we all get our time to perform. To be the person we’ve always imagined and worked so hard to become. This is to soak in those around us who have made our lives full of love. This is a time for us to celebrate standing in the bright light.
Looking at these four steps of living a full puppet life, I want to emphasize that you cannot skip steps, but you can go back and forth. Go back to rebuild a part of your puppet arm that’s been feeling a little weak. Go back and wash off those dirty eyes from all the wear and tear over the years. Life doesn’t end when we perform. Life sets us up for another show, so get ready. You might need a little fixing before the spotlight. I know I sure do!
BONUS THOUGHT: This is completely unrelated to living a life as a puppet, but not completely unrelated to the theme of life. Check out Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s song “If We Were Vampires”. It’s a truly amazing!