There are two levels to watching a movie. On one level, we understand that it’s a work of fiction brought to life by actors within artificial scenes. On the second level, we lose ourselves in the story, so much so, that our heart races, we startle, we cry, we laugh, we feel the sensations of love, loss, joy, sadness, fear, and anger — it’s all there.
Combined, these two levels allow us to easily enjoy a movie. On the one hand, if we weren’t able to accept the actors and artificiality as what they represent, instead of what they are, we couldn’t appreciate the plot to the point where it draws out our emotions. And on the other hand, if the impact of a movie is too intense, we can calm ourselves by remembering that it’s only a movie.
And this dual-level perspective can also help us to enjoy life more easily. On one level, we can lose ourselves in the story that’s laid out before us, directly part of the action. On the other level, we can realize that life as we experience it, resides in our thoughts, our imagination, and is fictional in that sense — and because of this, we can proceed without worry, watching ourselves play our part, enjoying the show.
Understanding life from this point of view allows us to let go of our anxiety. There is no danger, no wrong outcomes — we can take part in life without embarrassment, without failure. When the intensity gets too high, we remember how life exists as a fantasy within our minds. And when this particular show is over, so what, perhaps there are many more to follow.