When I was a kid, and on those rare occasions when the TV worked, I liked watching Gilligan’s Island.
(If you haven’t seen it, then honestly, you need to watch a few episodes. In fact, watch a lot of episodes. Gilligan’s Island is a brilliant metaphor for society. It’s okay, I’ll wait until you get a few episodes under your belt. Okay, ready? Let’s continue… )
In those days, you could never be sure which episodes would be shown in which order, so it was very important to make sure that there was no “continuity tracking.” Each episode had to end the same way it started. Each episode had to end with the castaways back on the island. No one could die, no one could be rescued, no one could have babies, etc. If someone else was stranded on the island at the beginning of the episode, then you knew they would be off the island by the end. Hell, the Castaways even wore the same outfits every day.
Now, I’m not going to say that Gilligan’s Island influenced my way of looking at life, but I will say it seemed to dovetail very neatly into it. Maybe offered me an example. Who knows?
Regardless of the cause-and-effect, I noticed. A couple years after high school, I had a sudden realization:
I realized that I was seeing my life like an episode of Gilligan’s Island. At the end of the day/week/month/year, it was important to not have any big changes occur. It was important to leave the day the way I entered it, to leave the month the way I entered it, and so forth.
Specifically, I was not “allowed” to make big changes to my life. I had my job and I had my paycheck and I had my little apartment and I had my little life. Everything was neatly compartmentalized. And none of it was allowed to change.
I had somehow allowed myself to be programmed to prevent my life from changing in any significant way. I wasn’t allowed off Gilligan’s Island, and no one was allowed to join me, and I even wore the same clothes (life) every day.
There was a lot of harsh reality-smacking in that realization. Understandably. And I admit I made a lot of mistakes. But I knew — I knew — that I had to leave that loop. I had to break out.
I think Life is meant to be lived as an adventure where so many steps are new. Always new things to try, new things to love, new things to avoid (ouch!), new skills to add, new tongues to speak, new songs to listen to and to sing.
It’s not an episode of Gilligan’s Island. Very much not!
That was when my life started changing. When I look back to the time before that, I see a young man walking in circles because those circles were comfortable. Now there is a very different person who looks back at me from the mirror. Now, the person who looks back at me has a much cockier attitude. He has been burned, poked, prodded, and scarred. He has also done some really goddamn fucking amazing things. And there are a lot more to come.
I don’t know if I could equate my life to a TV show anymore. It’s more like I stopped watching and stepped outside and just started walking.
And that’s pretty damn cool.
So, if you find yourself reluctant to make a jump, or to change something, you might ask yourself “Why am I reluctant? I can rescue the Castaways if I want.”
Or you can bring more people to the Island.
Or you can write a whole new story. One that never ends.
Whatever you like.