Planes, Trains & Automobiles… (AKA Bad Economy, Looming Strike & Fender Benders) just Pay it Forward

All that Steve Martin (Neal Page) wants to do in this timeless comedy is make it home in time for Thanksgiving. That is the subject of the week isn’t it? Thanksgiving. Most years, at this time, I read about gratitude and exercises in appreciation. This year I’d like to address what’s going on: news reports on the terrible state of the economy, email petitions for and against an actors strike, and in my personal case—a small fender bender in a parking lot.
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In Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Steve Martin saw all of the obstaclesin his way of getting home. However, there was another force in the movie, John Candy (Del Griffith) who saw only opportunities. Is it possible that two people in the same circumstances could be experiencing them in completely opposite mindsets? If you saw the movie, you know the answer is YES. The great thing about movies (and why I use them in every newsletter) is that they are metaphors for real life.

Is our economy in a terrible state? That’s a very general question. What is your financial state? Are you getting caught up in fear and anxiety about future problems that may never even occur (being a Neal)? Or are you educating yourself on how to protect yourself/ family and improving your situation (being a “Del)?

Are you living in fear of a strike (being a Neal)? Or are you staying open to possibility(being a Del)? During the Writers Strike I took the opportunity to walk the picket lines in solidarity with the writers. It was an unexpected opportunity to meet new people. I also took the opportunity to have lunch with writer friends and casting directors who I normally wouldn’t be able to see because they’re working. Interestingly enough, I had more network auditions after the strike than in my entire career combined.

And then there was the fender bender yesterday. Two people pulling out at the same time and looking in opposite directions collide. I hate life’s little fender benders because they are reminders that I’m not paying attention. I pulled my car out of traffic’s way and then the driver and I surveyed the very minimal damage to our cars. The driver didn’t speak. I didn’t speak. The passenger spoke. He said, “Are you okay?” I replied that I was and asked if they were. He replied that they were although he was not thrilled about the mark on his car. I replied I had some scratches as well. Two parking lot security guards came over and asked if there was a problem. And then there was the choice—to be a Neal or to be a Del. The passenger looked at me and said, “I’m not going to make a fuss
about this, just pay it forward.” He gave me a big smile, and I nodded in agreement as we went our separate ways. Two “Dels.” For the rest of the day I thought, “how can I pay it forward and make someone else’s day a little easier?” Isn’t that a better question than, “what am I going to do if the economy keeps dropping
or a strike happens or some girl who’s not paying attention hits my car?” This holiday season, be a Del and when someone is a Del to you, pay it forward. Good change is coming I can feel it!

And… Action!

This Thanksgiving, in addition to focusing on what you’re grateful for, do something for a “Del “in your life. The more you take notice of who the “Dels” are and make an effort to appreciate them, the more your focus will be on what’s most important.If you are experiencing fear and anxiety, speak with someone who can
help you create a plan (for your finances, or generating work). Fear comes from expecting the worst or not knowing what to expect. If you have a plan you’ll be focusing on the action you can take which is far more empowering.

Neal and Del are examples of PERCEPTION. You have choices on how to perceive your situation. It may be easier even natural to fear the worst, but why make that choice. Choose compassion, kindness, learning, giving, and honesty.
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