The other day I read a review of a romantic movie written by a woman in her 20s. I assume her age from her comments about how unrealistic a specific plot point felt to her because her mom kept her wedding ring a full year after the divorce as opposed to the main character tossing it the very next day. That made me think about how we judge realism of plots in movies, TV shows and books based on our own life experiences in addition to second-hand experiences that we get through our family and friends. If we don’t have personal experience (direct or indirect) with something or a certain life situation, there’s a big chance it will not feel realistic to us. The fact is that there are people living their life in a way some of us can only imagine or see in the movies. Those people are not common, but they do exist.
But until we meet one or two it is hard for us to believe they truly exist. On one hand, we judge the world and ourselves through the prism of personal experiences. On the other, we have to accept the fact that our experiences will always be limited. That is why people who travel outside of their own country or even continent, belong to a special tribe that connects them with other travelers from all around the world. For some that is not easy, because traveling makes you feel vulnerable as you open yourself to unknown experiences outside of the society and environment you have grown up in. That leap of faith, in turn, broadens your mind and world view that forever changes your perspective of people and life in general. And I dare to say only with an open mind you can truly feel free (to leave your life that way you feel is best).
When I first traveled on my own in my early 20s from a small central Alpine country in south-central Europe to the very north of Europe I discovered that despite different cultural and political upbringing, the locals share the same dreams, passions, and worries about family, love, food, health, school or work, and art. After three decades of traveling around Europe and parts of North and South America I could confidently say that the most popular movies, TV and books are so universally accepted because we are far more similar than different. Yes, each life is unique, but the experiences that composite that life are not.
Ask yourself how often did you see yourself in a certain character or could directly relate to a specific scene or a situation that happened to a character or even a real person on the other side of the world? Truly unique experiences are very rare because even the most strange and unthinkable most likely happened to someone else as well. More you look for the similarities and common ground, more you will find and that will make you feel more closely connected to the larger tapestry that is the human condition.