I got thinking about the power of the status quo when I recently watched the documentary I’m Fine, Thanks. A team of first-time filmmakers independently produced the doc with crowd-sourced funding from Kickstarter. Their message to shake free of complacency was so widely shared that more than 4,000 people signed on to financially back the film project, myself included.
Complacency is a strange beast – a passive contentment, but easily agitated when you scratch the surface. Many people live with a certain sense of security and comfort with the status quo. Until they don’t. The married couple with the beautiful home who come to resent their overbearing mortgage; the high-powered lawyer who is overworked and unfulfilled; the parents who love their children but who feel trapped like hamsters in a wheel – you’ll meet all of these people, and many more, in I’m Fine Thanks. Luckily, you’ll also see these individuals break free of their own shackles to build an impassioned and fulfilling life.
This film makes me think about my own struggles with complacency – the times I stayed in a souring relationship, trudged through joyless work, and strived for more and more unfulfilling achievement, fueled by panicked ambition. I know I’m not alone. Many of us, at one time or another, have been caught up in what I call habitual living – just going through the motions without really experiencing all that life has to offer. It’s a joyless existence. But sometimes what begins as quiet discontent grows into a deafening call for change. The fear and uncertainty associated with this can be nearly paralyzing (at least in my own experience), but it’s often what’s required to shock us back to life. You have to break down before you can build back up again.
If this resonates with you, you may identify with Vanda Marlow, a former ad executive in San Francisco who talks about climbing to the top of a ladder, only to find you have it leaned up against the wrong wall. “I didn’t even know what the right wall was”, she said. Victoria Pearce, a lawyer and mother in Austin, Texas, tearfully admits that she feels trapped, but still doesn’t know what she wants. She says, “I don’t want to be the person who just flits around and never figures things out”. She relates her feeling to leaving the house in an uncomfortable outfit. “Some people live their whole life that way – everything feels a little bit pinched, a little bit off.”
Published at Huffington Post.