Have you ever seen that movie, The Paper? I saw it once on TV. It was edited, obviously. It’s a rated R movie so I wanted to make that clear from the get-go.
Anyway, there is a scene in this movie that I will never forget because it made an impression on me.
The main character (played by Michael Keaton) is working on a huge story for his newspaper, The Sun. I mean, this story is ginormous if he can get it verified and to press before the paper “goes to bed”. He’s supposed to be meeting his very pregnant wife (played by Marissa Tomei) and her parents for dinner. But he’s late. Again.
He calls her to explain why he’s late. She’s heard these excuses way too many times and is fed up. She feels that he cares more for the paper than he does for anything else.
During this phone call, she surprises him with this:
Wife: You know that. – Let me give you a hypothetical.
Husband (annoyed): Really?
Wife: A guy breaks into the apartment. – Breaks into the apartment. He’s got a gun, holds it to my head. He says, “I blow your wife’s brains out or I blow up the “Sun” building.” Choose. Now. What do you say?
Husband: What do you think I say? It’s ridiculous. It’s not gonna happen.
Wife: That is exactly my point. It is never one big dramatic choice. It is little, vague situations every day…and you’re either there or you’re not. If you keep waiting for the guy with the gun to show up, it will be too late.
That stuck with me. Because our lives our mostly about all the little decisions that we make every day. Those are what really define us, right? I mean, sure, there are big decisions like marriage. But we don’t have ginormous, dramatic decisions to make every day. Our days are crammed with little decisions.
Which, when you think about it, makes each of those decisions a lot more meaningful. (And obviously, I’m not talking about decisions such as “should I have Frosted Flakes or Cheerios?”) The mundane (or what we think of as mundane) acts of service each day, such as making a meal for your family or smiling at the cashier. Decisions on what kind of media we decide to watch or not watch. The thoughts that we allow to take hold in our minds. Whether we will read the scriptures. All these “little, vague situations every day” give us ample opportunities to show what we’re made of.
And we’re either there or we’re not, to paraphrase Marissa Tomei’s character.
All these decisions, like the ones mentioned in Elder Bednar’s quote above, are little brushstrokes “on the canvas of our souls”. Up close each brushstroke may not seem important, valuable, or beautiful. But stand back and these decisions and actions are part of a beautiful picture that we paint.
With every decision.
Let us paint something beautiful with each brushstroke.