The Glass Man: Go For It While You Can Still Take Life’s Knocks


– Amélie: “She’s devising a stratagem to…”
– The Glass Man: “Ah… she’s fond of stratagems…”

In the French movie “Amélie”, the main character is a reserved young woman, issued from a hyperprotective, neurotic and cold family. When she reaches adulthood, she realizes she can improve people’s lives by making them experience strong positive emotions:

  • Kindle a passionate love between two regulars at a café
  • Reunite a solitary fifty-year-old man with one of his childhood forgotten treasures
  • Giving a few breaths of fresh air to a distracted merchant abused by his boss

But she does not want to get exposed. So she devises stratagems to never get caught as the author of these righteous deeds. Then, she quickly realizes she cannot hide behind a mask forever. Especially when it comes to her own life …

Avoidance strategies

Like Amélie, you may be afraid of suffering by exposing yourself to the harsh realities of the world. And you may use avoidance strategies to stay away from the confusing intricacies of life.

Some people find solitary occupations to fill their time:

  • They play video games to imagine themselves as heroes of a world they can control, for a few minutes or a few hours.
  • They browse the internet, hidden behind an avatar in the safety of their home.
  • They watch others live their lives on television…

And meanwhile, they neglect their own lives. That is: the moment of truth is constantly postponed, such as waiting for years to declare their undying love to their crush.

Of course, the perfect moment never comes. Like Amélie, you can devise a thousand and one stratagems, but one day, the moment of truth has to happen.

The emptiness of a dry comfy life

These avoidance strategies have a cost: a sterile life.

In the movie Amélie, the Glass Man knows this dilemma too well. He was born with bones as brittle as crystal. A simple handshake could crush his fingers. This rare disease means he can’t leave his apartment. He has to stay home at all times, where all his furniture is padded.

In a dramatic passage, he says to Amélie:
“So, little Amelie, your bones aren’t made of glass. You can take life’s knocks. If you let this chance go by, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton. So go get him [her crush], for Pete’s sake!”

“Taking life’s knocks”. What a powerful way of showing up in your life. Better take life knocks than collect regrets that will haunt you ’till your death, right? Have you noticed how your struggle stories are much more fun to tell than your avoidance stories?

Taking life’s knocks, what does it look like?

Taking life’s knocks, that could be :

  • Declaring your undying love to your crush
  • Exposing your art to the harsh criticism of an audience
  • Confronting your deepest fears, such as public speaking
  • Daring to get out of your way and do things differently than the herd
  • Replying to an intimidating boss
  • Telling an embarrassing personal story to a caring mind

For me, writing on Medium and doing my 100 days of writing challenge is all about taking life knocks.

  • Each time I get on my desk to write a new article, I must confront my internal critic.
  • Each time I push on the publish button, I must be prepared for harsh criticism.
  • Each time I write a check-in article to give news about my challenge, I have to admit failures.

But you know what? It’s so rewarding to express myself in this way that I persevere in spite of my struggles.

How to take life’s knocks with an accountability partner

Now you tell me: it’s easy to speak about courage, but it’s another thing to show up and take action. Let me give you a suggestion on this. For me, one of the catalysts that helped me take life’s knocks is having an accountability partner. Have you ever thought about this option?

Of course, it’s not that easy to find the ideal partner. But who cares, you don’t need the perfect one. Just get someone who is motivated to speak about their challenges with you, and listen to yours. For years, I didn’t dare to ask someone to be my accountability partner. But at some point, I took action and got one.

This was in 2017, and since then, I’ve had lots of joy supporting and getting supported by accountability partners. And they have encouraged me, again and again, to be brave and take life’s knocks on my projects. Yes, that’s the magic of having someone believing in you!

Do you also have an inspiring project collecting dust in your cardboard boxes? Then as the Glass Man would say: “Go for it, for Pete’s sake!”

About the author 

Alex Philippe

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