The Truth About the Montage

So many Hollywood movies have one that I don’t even have to describe what type of montage I’m talking about for you to fully understand my meaning. The typical formula goes a  little something like this:

  • Person wants to be on the basketball team (cheer-leading team/soccer team/learn to dance) so they squander for about an hour of film time (usually with some sort of love interest) until they reach the inciting moment when they decide I WANT TO DANCE!
  • insert dancing montage here
  • Then after 5 minutes of work, they are ready for the dance off.

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s one hour of useless squandering and 5 minutes of dancing/cage fighting that’ll help us all to fulfill our goals and lead more productive lives. Unfortunately, as you probably already guessed, the montage is a lie.


I think that one of the most important things that we, as humans, must do at some point in our lives is to have the inciting moment when we decide that we are no longer content suffering through a passionless life. But that decision, however wonderful it may feel, is directly related to the hardships to come. The reason that movies fast forward through montage scenes is because they are not fun. During the montage is when Rocky pulls sleighs through the snow and punches deer carcasses and whatever other crazy things he believes will make him strong (I wonder what he would suggest for a climbing workout). And while seeing those scenes in flash forward played over a cheesy 80’s techno pop song is super fun, take away the glitz and there is no way I’m watching Rocky pull a sleigh for another hour.

I’ve really taken to heart Don Miller’s idea of living life as if it were a movie script (go read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years if you haven’t already), but I must admit that this whole work part of the process has really got me in the dumps. I decided about a year and 3 months ago that I was ready to find the girl of my dreams. Now this is my warning–God listens. Later that same month I started talking to the woman that I am now engaged to be married to and it’s been a heck of an awesome ride so far. But, it’s also been incredibly difficult.

Because I really didn’t have any serious post college plans until I started dating Britt, I’m really having to make up some ground now. I am (you guessed it) smack dab in the middle of my montage and let me tell ya, there are no 80’s pop songs here. 

I am getting up every day more anxious about the fact that I am a creative spirit trying to find jobs in a bad economy based largely on my ability to work with people and communicate. Listen, it’s very tempting to use my blog as a personal platform for me to write about how smart I am and provide useless advice on how to get twitter mentions, but that’s just not my game. The montage is hard.

The conflict does not end with the inciting moment–it begins.

But I believe that the most important thing is to focus fully on the reasons why we ever decided to do crazy things like run a non profit, become a writer, sit court side at an NBA game, or marry the perfect woman. If the prize is great enough and the passion strong enough, God willing, we’ll make it through.

But I’m in the middle of mine and can’t see anything past another 3 hours of dog sled pulling so I’m interested to see what the rest of the cyber sphere thinks.


I know dude, I know.


5 responses to “The Truth About the Montage

  1. Hey J Dubs, I love the thoughts, bro…this is just me chiming in for the sake of lending my voice to an already-established spirit of creativity present in this little neck of the cyber space woods, but is it possible that this idea of living in the montage is just part of the human endeavor? Is it not true that it is really only when we are able to look back on our lives with the perspective that hindsight brings that we’re able to see the incredible level of progress and change that has occurred without getting bogged down by the here-and-now of the present that often brings with it that feeling of monotony, drudgery, and difficulty that most certainly accompanied Rocky’s heroic exploits for personal fitness in the Siberian wild lands? Just a thought, amigo 🙂

    • David! Well said my friend. I think you raise a really great point about the importance of perspective on this whole theory. ‘The montage’ to me represents a period of heightened conflict and struggle triggered by an inciting moment in our lives. And I think that you are right to a large degree in that the montage is most often seen in hind sight. However, I do think that there are certain points in our lives when we are able to recognize the struggle at the moment–such as the months in the gym that it takes to lose 50 pounds or the relentless job search for the soon to graduate (trust me, I see some struggle haha). I’m glad you took the time to write your thoughts, they are very interesting my friend.

      • Haha, you bet Jordan! You bring to the table some interesting ideas and it strengthens us all when we take the time to engage with those ideas that may cause us to pause for a sec and reflect on the issue at hand. With that said, the point that I was trying to nail home (and quite poorly, I might add) is this: life in the present is always going to conjure up those montage-esque feelings within because our day-to-day is constantly full of doing this or that in a somewhat mindless manner. When we are busying ourselves with completing a task at hand as quickly as we can so that we can move onto the next thing awaiting our attention, it is quite easy to feel like you’re not getting anywhere with your life’s journey. And I’ll let you in on a little secret bro: I’m speaking from experience, here, for sure! Every day I’m confronted with the difficulties of taking in the enormous amount of knowledge required of modern physicians, and the only thing I can really do is dig in the heels and press on. That’s just part of life, thanks to the good ol’ curse to labor in vain laid upon the human race oh-so-many years ago…but when you allow yourself to step out of that moment and look back on what those little spurts of determination and energy now amount to, I would say you’ll be quite amazed at the transformation, for it is then that the montage is actually perceived in its rightful place as part of the cinematic masterpiece that is this journey called life…

    • Yes David! Write a book! Jordan– currently Tyler and I’s small group is going through “Storyline” by Don and it’s freakin’ awesome. Have you looked into it?

      Anyway–love the rawness. Someone I know used to challenge me to look at conflict as opportunity, an opportunity to learn. I wrestled with this and it wasn’t until Ty and I got married that I fully understood. Every time we get in a disagreement we have the opportunity to forgive, use humility, exercise owning our own emotions etc. — all things that not only refine us into better people with greater character but deepen our relationship. It never fails on the other side of conflict is deeper, more intimate relationship. Now I’ve applied this to every area and have begun to LOVE conflict (which sounds weird, but true) because on the other side there’s growth and richness of life! It’s “for the joy set before him” sort of endurance.


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