The Sopranos Teach Us About Being Present
There’s a huge revisiting of The Sopranos right now. When I thought about this blog, I didn’t realize it and it’s true. With a couple of prequel-type productions and the recent 20th anniversary (2019) of the iconic series, The Sopranos are interesting again.
I happened to watch the entire series over the last month, a la binge! Or should I say “a la Bada Bing”!?
There were many “a-ha” moments across my viewing journey and without going down a tangent befitting of 10th-grade Geometry, I’ll share the one that woke me up and drove me to channel my best Roger Ebert meets modern coaching.
There is an episode in Season 6 (#11 Cold Stones) where Rose Aprile and Carm Soprano go to Paris together. It’s important because both women take the journey for completely different reasons that become apparent shortly after arrival. I know you’re disappointed that I’m not talking about mob enforcement, Machiavellian gangster maneuvers or Furio Guinta. This is a simple revelation about being and staying present!
As they traverse this beautiful, historic and mysterious city of ages, the two friends approach it with completely different perspectives. Ro is a woman who has experienced extreme tragedy in her life. Her gangster husband succumbs to cancer, and her wayward heir-apparent son succumbs to lead poisoning (via a .38 caliber revolver). She approaches the experience with complete wonderment and NO expectations. Each meal, each interaction with Paris and Parisians is refreshing.
Carm, who has everything — family, power, wealth — looks at things from a perspective of what she’s missed, how others have suffered on this spot on the Earth, and with a constant air of disappointment and sadness for other things and people long gone from the planet.
At one point, while Carm wants to roam the city one last time to understand the misery that has happened here, Ro is off to a rendezvous “avec un bonhomme Française.” When Carm mentions he’s half her age, Ro’s response is priceless, “Well, duh!” Exactly. A true present moment. Forget any moral implications or outrage!
This is being in the presence of being present. Yep, I said it again. There’s a lot of focus around being and staying present. It’s hard. We either want to stay in the past with a history that is no longer ours because boom it’s gone. Or, we’re way out over our skis into the future, trying to predict what will happen next.
The past is where disappointment and depression breed. Bad.
The future is where anxiety and stress materialize. Bad bad. One more thing about the future, you can’t predict it! There are a lot of people out there who say they can and they’re really just guessers. I’m not even going to say good guessers because most of them are always wrong! (Unfortunately we seem to pay them a lot of attention and money for their terrible track records…)
The answer is to be present.
- Try meditation. There are centers where you can meditate individually and together with others. There are plenty of meditation apps out there from free to a nominal fee.
- Check in with yourself. What can you take control of at this moment? Answer: Unless you’re voting, it’s not politics!
- Connect to the “being” side of you. Richard Branson says we are human beings, not human doings. When you are doing stuff, how are you behaving, feeling, thinking while you’re doing it? (This is a simple and great way to get present and connect with the other half of you)
At one point in the episode, as Carm addresses Ro’s history of woe and recent loss of her son to mob activity, Ro confronts Carm and tells her she doesn’t think about it. It’s yesterday. She can’t control the outcome. It’s happened, come and gone. She is here (in Paris!) to experience this amazing place in the now. Why can’t Carm do the same? It really catches Carm off guard and she retreats to consider things. Thank God for mob wife reality. Ro makes complete sense in her simplicity. It’s an opportunity, or rather an offer, you shouldn’t refuse yourself.
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