“Can you imagine if a documentary was made about your life, and they followed you in the good, and the bad, and the ugly?”
The question is posed as the camera pans across the rural landscape of Scooba, Mississippi. It is the beginning of Season 2 of the binge-worthy Netflix Documentary, Last Chance U. The series focuses on the football program at East Mississippi Community College, coached by the outspoken and temperamental Coach Buddy Stephens. Many of the players at EMCC were dropped from a Division 1 program and have huge academic and behavior challenges to overcome. Playing at EMCC is their last chance to continue to play football and potentially return to a Division I program.
At the beginning of Season 2, Coach Buddy reflects on what it was like to watch himself on-screen in Season 1. He saw himself through other people’s’ eyes. He saw how he treated his players, what his language was like, the kind of man that he was. He didn’t like what he saw.
I pressed pause on the remote and perked up from my spot on the couch when I heard this. What if my life were a documentary, and I watched it? Would I like what I saw? Would I be brave enough to look at the truth of what I have and haven’t done?
The thought made me shudder. That would be so hard. And so humbling. And SO brave.
I hide from the truth all the time. For example:
- I take a lot of pictures but I don’t like to be in them myself.
- I rarely go out without make-up. Without it I look tired…and 40. Oh, and that’s because I AM TIRED, and (almost) 40.
- When bills come in the mail I don’t open them right away. I let them pile up, fearing the amount, and stress over them.
- Sometimes before I yell at the kids I close the windows. I mean, what if people knew I yelled at my kids?
- I avoided going to the Doctor for over a year for a simple test because I feared what I might find out.
- I drink too much Diet Coke and my kids bug me about it, and then that bugs me that they bug me because I know they are right.
- I post a picture on Facebook that shows a real moment but, tells an incomplete story of how life really is.
My refusal to look at the truth just means I stay powerless to change it. It means I stay stuck, and make the same poor choice repeatedly. I can remain a victim. I can stay scared.
Because my own documentary is hard to watch. It is vulnerable and humbling. It forces me to look at some destructive patterns that I have created, feelings I have hurt. It forces me to admit I need help. Looking at the truth compels me to take some responsibility for the mess I have made.
I play the scene over again a few more times on the TV screen before I realize why it has captivated me, and why it bothers me.
Here is the thing.
The camera is running for all of us, not just for Coach Buddy. My documentary, my life, is being filmed. But not by Netflix. It’s actually more important of an audience than that, it’s being watched and recorded by my loved ones, my friends, my co-workers, my neighbors.
My documentary is impacting them. I am impacting them.
If I am brave enough to watch it, I can change the story. The rest of the script is not yet written.
I always want to do better. Roll the film.