Being present enough to notice it
Movies (and great tv) have this ability to make even the most mundane life situations look so interesting and appealing.
Of course a big part of it is the plot and finding a character in an unexpected tale.
But there’s something else that really draws us in, something so fundamental that it’s easy to overlook.
Go to the park or a cafe and people watch for a hour and you’ll see the obvious: many of us are in our heads.
The majority of us spend our day in our mind contemplating the past or future, not present to what is happening now. The same thoughts and worries are on repeat day after day. And, worst of all, most of these thoughts aren’t ones we decided to think about on purpose.
Compare that to the characters we watch on screen, especially the ones played by great actors. Even when they’re doing the most basic of functions like drinking coffee in park, or ridding a bus, washing dishes, or having a conversation with a friend, they are present in the moment, free of mental noise.
Even when characters in movies act distracted there’s a deep intentionality to it. It’s like everything they do they are doing on purpose. There’s something really appealing about that. It’s invigorating to watch people who aren’t stuck in their head.
Some people call movies an escape. I like to think of the great ones as a reminder. A reminder that anything is possible and that our own life is so much more interesting and amazing than we give it credit for. We just have to be present enough to notice it.