Most people are glad to take off for a couple of weeks when they get a vacation. I’m glad to come home. Concert dates can keep our performing group on the road for months at a time. That’s probably why I felt so relaxed being back in Salt Lake, standing in line with a girl I liked, ready to see a movie I thought I’d rave about.
It was a popular space science fiction film, and the line was long. Waiting gave us time to talk but also time to think. My mind wandered to parts of section 88 in the Doctrine and Covenants. It wasn’t the scripture that struck me funny but the idea that I would think of it on a date. Section 88 talks about the judgment day.
Verses 108 through 110 talk about a great revealing that will take place, during which our actions will be shown to all. These verses even mention that our thoughts will be unveiled and imply that our life’s journey will be recreated to prove that the judgment is just. [D&C 88:108–110]
I had heard people describe this as an epic motion picture on a giant screen, but that thought had never really struck home with me before. Now the thoughts came rushing to me. If a movie were made of my life, would I be half as excited to see it as the one I was standing in line to see now? Would I want to take a date to see it? Would I take my bishop? My friends? Would I invite the Savior?
What started as a simple thought evolved into deep reflections about my life and the motion picture I would make. The concept remained in my mind long after the true film ended and I had driven my date home. In fact, I kept thinking about it for weeks. I couldn’t shake the concern I felt wondering what type of picture it would be.
Who will be the star of my movie? Who else could have the lead role in “Dan Lindstrom on Earth” but Dan Lindstrom? I find that fascinating. Having “top billing” helps me when I feel depressed or discouraged. All I do is remember that the camera is recording all my thoughts and actions, and I cheer right up and get busy with something positive.
In the film “Man’s Search for Happiness,” we are told that each of us will be held accountable for every minute of our lives on this planet. This means that perhaps my movie will not only show what I did but what I could have done if I had employed my opportunities to the fullest. Thinking about that helps me decide to use my time more wisely. I want to be found in holy places. Sometimes I catch myself walking down the street looking around and wondering to myself, “Where is the camera? Is it filming my good side?”
I did a little research about filmmaking, too. In the library I studied the responsibilities of a producer. Every time I go to the theater, I see the producer’s name in huge print, so he’s got to be important. I learned that he takes all the risks. He manages the finances, so he takes the greatest gamble. If the movie is a hit, he might make millions of dollars; if it flops, he might lose his shirt. I must be the producer of my movie, since I am the one taking the chances. It will tell of exaltation or outer darkness, or somewhere in between. I am the one who oversees production, who determines where the set will be located, and what quality of film will result.
The producer also hires the supporting cast. I do the same thing in my life movie, in a way, because I decide who will appear in it and how prominent their roles will be. The people I associate with and the person I marry are decisions I must make.
A director is vital to any film. Satan is always more than willing to direct. In fact, he doesn’t even wait to be asked. He’ll try to take control whenever he can. The Holy Ghost is also willing to direct. But neither of these two directors works for free. Although Satan may be eager to get started, he demands an eternal fee. The Holy Ghost demands strict obedience to principles of cleanliness and righteous living. I alone decide which power I will allow to direct me, and I hope and pray that I may have the wisdom and the strength to allow that to be the Holy Ghost.
I am impressed that there will be no stunt men filling in in my show. When the going gets rough or dangerous, I can’t holler for a double to take my place. The Lord decided we would come to this earth and experience life firsthand. I can’t turn the scene over to someone else; I must act out every frame.
There will, however, be editing in my film if I ask for it. In a highly technical motion picture, like Star Wars for example, many scenes are shot over and over from various angles and then the best clips are used in the final version. If something doesn’t work right the first time, it can be improved upon and tried again. Editors labor strenuously deciding what to keep and what to throw away. The Lord has given us a similar method of taking out bad scenes and closing up the gaps. It’s called repentance, and it’s just as effective as the man with razor blade and tape who slices and splices in Hollywood. Anything eliminated by the Lord’s method, however, is gone forever and he doesn’t hold it against us. (See D&C 58:42.)
What happens, though, if after editing (repenting) there’s not much left of my film? The comedian Bill Cosby once said his life flashed before him and the “movie was so short, I had to ask for a rerun.” If it seems that might happen to me, then I need to become a good writer. Yes, that’s right. I am the script man, too. It is my responsibility to make the scenes worthwhile and exciting, to develop the plot and lead it to a glorious climax. Too many people sit back and wait for life to happen. This attitude of letting someone else decide for us reminds me of someone in the premortal life. His name was Satan. He wanted to prewrite my script for me and have me act my part according to his will. I fought that plan and rejected it. I wanted to prove I could do all my Heavenly Father commanded, of my own free will.
Regular entries in my journal help me not only record progress on my film but also provide a place to list daily goals and prewrite scenes before acting them out. Morning prayers help prepare the script for the day. Evening prayers analyze progress on another exciting scene in my movie. Each day should be a beautiful and powerful episode.
I am grateful to the Lord for my chance to be here on this planet and for the power and trust he has vested in me. I know he expects me to do many good things of my own free will, and perhaps this idea of making a movie of my life will help me to do such things. I hope that I will find, if I do produce such an imaginary picture, that I will be happy to stand in line to see it when it comes on the screen.