the third movie

January 18th, 2012

It’s not hard to make your first movie. It’s not hard to make your second movie. What’s hard is to make your third movie. — Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep says and does things I like. This was what she said about how hard it is to construct a career in the movies, but it applies to everything. It applies to love and commitment, family, work, physical and mental health, and everything else in your life. She means it’s hard to muster enough commitment to see things through. To keep going. To give up your expectation that anything worthwhile happens easily, without disappointment, or without trying really, really hard.

I repeat it here because of what I see so frequently repeated elsewhere about things not working out. By the time you’re approaching your third movie, you’re not new anymore. You’re not today’s darling, but you might yet become interesting. You might become resilient and resourceful, willing to make allowances. You’ll let yourself gain some weight, for instance, and do silly things with your hair. You’ll make a fool of yourself. You’ll take risks for your third movie, and every one after. Because when you do that for your third movie, you’ve realized there is only one movie. It’s called your life, and you don’t want it to end in bitterness and despair. The show has only just begun, and you love it. If you don’t love it, nobody will.

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  1. take risks. make good offers to the world. it is good. thanks.

    Comment by kate — January 18, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

  2. If my 30 year old self could have traveled in time and seen the joy and contentment in the life of her future 62 year old self she would have been quite mystified. It makes me laugh to imagine it. Life is a jolly good show.

    Meryl Streep says and does things I like as well. I have so long respected her as an artist and a human being and I was pleased when I learned that I was born on the very same day as she was — June 22, 1949…she in New Jersey, me in Pennsylvania. Two very different lives but perhaps not such different perspectives on life. It is, after all, just about the living of it day after day, about the dropping away of what isn’t real and the revelation of what is.

    Comment by Connie — January 18, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

  3. Hello Karen,
    I came to you and your blog by way of a “chance” Saturday afternoon respite in my public library, and a “chance” reading of an excerpt from Hand Wash Cold in the Shambhala Sun, pertaining to marriage. It resonated so deeply (me with 32 years “in” and many days of contemplating “out”), I promptly bought and read your book.
    I appreciate your practical, personal, relevant wisdom. It always touches my heart. Thank you.

    Comment by Katharine Weinmann — January 19, 2012 @ 8:28 am

  4. I’m having a big birthday next week (50!)and am so grateful for your reminder, Maezen. This isn’t a rehearsal…this is it!


    Comment by Robin — January 19, 2012 @ 8:43 am

  5. What wonderful, insightful words. Thank you.

    Comment by Sue — January 19, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  6. Hooray! Momma Zen is now available in Kindle format. I just bought it and am eagerly looking forward to memorizing the good parts.

    Comment by Bill — January 20, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  7. Beyond perfect. Keeping going is the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done. And now I’m thinking I should’ve called the video I just posted on Facebook “doing silly things with my hair.”

    Comment by Jena — January 23, 2012 @ 6:27 am

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