You know, in action movies, when the hero (nearly always a hero, rather than a heroine) is in full ‘bring the pain’ mode, kicking and jumping and roundhousing all about him, laying waste to the enemy with barely a flick of his hand? Of course you do.
Do you want to know what always crosses my mind when I see scenes like that? Well, sometimes it’s ‘Oh my goodness, what horrible and disturbing carnage!’ or ‘Was there really a need for all that blood?’ Normally, though, what I’m thinking when I watch Jason Bourne or Hitman or whoever making sludge out of their enemies, what I’m thinking is:
Man. I’d love to have their confidence.
In Ireland, we have a brilliant phrase. It goes something like this: ‘Hasn’t he got great use of himself?’* It’s normally said of a person who is particularly flexible, or athletic, or fit. I often hear it, mainly emanating from my parents, when we’re watching action movies; I have never heard it, emanating from anyone, when describing me.
I am a clumsy person. I drop things. I break stuff easily, which is why I take exaggerated care when doing the dishes and (on the rare occasion) dusting the ornaments. I also have a total lack of balance, and am somewhat challenged when it comes to coordination. I get mixed up between left and right; I start moving somewhere, and then find I can’t stop, much like trying to turn a cruise liner in an emergency. I do not have great use of myself, unless I’m using myself as a battering ram. In that case, then I have such excellent use of myself that I could put Jason Bourne himself to shame. When watching action movies, then, I am so envious of the ways in which the hero (sometimes the heroine, to be fair) can move so confidently, so fluidly, so decisively. I watch them placing their bodies in just the right way, balancing perfectly in order to aim a kick or launch themselves into the air, and wish I could do the same. I marvel at the ways in which they just ‘know’ danger is coming, and act, lightning-fast, to intercept it. They don’t dither; they don’t dawdle. They decide to act, and then they act, and their actions are always razor-sharp and accurate. I envy that.
Before anyone gets worried about me, I must be clear: I do know these are movies, and the actors are not really defying the laws of physics in order to bring the baddies down. I am, I hasten to assure you, capable of telling the difference between fiction and reality – most of the time, at least. But the spectacle of the thing is what’s important. When you’re watching a movie – if it’s any good, at least – you get carried away in the drama of it, and you can lose yourself in the displays of athleticism on screen.
Envy isn’t a good thing, of course. There’s a reason why it’s one of the Seven Deadlies, up there with lust and wrath and the rest. Perhaps I’d rather think of my envy as ‘ambition’ – I admire the confidence and self-possession of these action heroes and heroines, and therefore I will aim to emulate those qualities. The only problem with this is, of course, that I have as much chance of emulating their grace and poise as a teapot has of going into space. I do wish I was more decisive in general, though; when I get an idea, or know I have to make a decision, I either drag my feet on the matter for so long that the opportunity to make the most of it passes me by, or I jump blindly and act without thinking, thereby risking making a huge mess of the whole procedure.
It’d be great to find a bit of middle ground between the two extremes, wouldn’t it?
How you carry yourself can affect how your brain works, I think. If you carry yourself with strength and purpose, squaring your shoulders and using a steady and confident gait, perhaps you can fool yourself into thinking that you’re a capable person, more than equal to the demands of modern life. If you spend your time wringing your hands and stumbling from one corner to the next, perhaps it’s no wonder that your levels of self-belief will suffer. Next time I leave the house, then, I’ll strut like Wonder Woman – don’t worry, I won’t go as far as wearing the costume – and see if I can turn my envy into something more useful. I’ll visualise myself as an action heroine with perfect poise, and allow it to filter through my entire being.
I’ll probably end up tripping over my own feet before I get to the end of the road, but at least I’ll have tried.
Happy Friday, and happy weekend. If you encounter the forces of evil, may you prevail!
*Of course, this can be used to refer to people of all genders and none – amend as appropriate.