The universe moves in mysterious ways…and most of them are due to marketing. How did I end up with Will Smith’s memoir bumped up the TBR list to #1 and landing in my mailbox? I thought it was because a friend was loving the book so much and because I also happen to be a big Will Smith fan, like my first post mentioned. But…alas…

marketing
The pile grows.

Over the last few days, I’ve noticed the book prominently placed on a shelf at Target, and several blog posts, interviews, and podcasts talking about it. The man is the master of promotion, and it has trickled its way down to me. And I am 100% happy that it did.

Everyone is at least some level of a fan of Will Smith. Why? He’s a magnet, not only as a rapper and an actor, but as a person. If you want to read about a life lived by real human being, read this. I’ve never read a memoir from an actor that didn’t make me cringe, and this one had its moments. Creatives have a certain “look at me” that makes me uncomfortable…probably why I have such a hard time moving forward and promoting my blog posts and submitting my own book. But most of those moments were followed up by beautiful insight and growth.

It didn’t make me feel like I wasted my life by not being famous. It only opened my eyes to another world, another way of life. We have a lot in common, including a similar life-changing reading list. And you know that’s enough to make me fall in love with a person.

Just a few quotes and some thoughts before I shelve this beauty.

“The human mind is a story telling machine. The creation of narrative is hard-wired into us. What we call “memory” and “imagination” are essentially just stories that we program into our minds as a survival mechanism to protect ourselves and help us thrive. We need our lives to mean something. It is a kind of mental illness if we cannot shape our experiences into a story that gives our existence a sense of purpose.”

The first part, yes, I agree. That brain of ours is amazing. It takes everything we experience around us and turns it into magic. The problem is that none of it is really true. Our imaginative re-telling of what it means isn’t the reality of what is going here. And yes, we need our lives to mean something, but we can make them mean anything we want. The great part is that we can shape our experience into a story, and then change that story as much as we need to get where we want to go.

That can also be a negative. We can believe our story, hold onto it so tightly, that we hurt ourselves and those around us. The story Will Smith tells about his life is his version of his life. It isn’t the whole story, the reality of his life. It’s a narrative woven together in his mind for our benefit and his. And I loved reading every page.

“Purpose and desire can seem similar, but they are very different, sometimes even opposing forces. Desire is what you want; purpose is the flowering of what you are.”

If only more of us understood the difference, learned to see it young and actively choose which to follow and when.

“Feelings are extremely valuable tools for maneuvering and manifesting in the world. They are like fire – they can be used to cook and heat and cleanse. But when extreme emotions go unchecked, my experience has been that they will incinerate your dreams.”

Another experience we share. I’ve always been a “feelings” person and I’ve let my emotions run my life for far longer than I should. I should have (cringy word, maybe I wish I had) learned far earlier how to harness them and use them to my benefit, not control and suppress them.

“To place responsibility for your happiness on anybody other than yourself is a recipe for misery.”

This one gets my usual response of “sure, maybe, and in some cases.” Maybe to place sole responsibility for your happiness is something you shouldn’t try, but assuming that the person you are attached to would do things and act in ways to an attempt to make you happy isn’t crazy. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to accept people’s behavior or move away from them so that I can be happy. So, yeah, I agree.

One more thing before I let you go. Will Smith mentions several times that all he wanted was to build a financially and emotionally stable home for his family. Family was important. But I don’t see that in his actions. If that’s all he wanted, he could have done one or two big movies and then walked away with the cash, bought a nice house, invested the rest and lived a life in peace with his wife and children. He clearly wanted more and was able to get it and that’s awesome.

If I could read a follow up to this memoir, I’d love to read ones from Jada, his first wife Sheree, and his children. I’d like to see what they saw and experienced.

I loved this book so much. I’m so glad it came into my path the way it did. Wow.