The first place I ran into the term ‘larger than life’ was in the movie Top Gun (and I am not admitting to when or where that was…). I wanted to know what ‘larger than life’ meant…
The first definition I found was someone or something literally larger than normal; the eight foot tall guy, the double sized model or blown up picture that helped you see small details, that sort of thing. The problem was that this obviously wasn’t what was meant in the movie…
Not literal…? So, what is it?
The term larger than life couldn’t mean what I thought it meant. Neither Maverick nor Tom Cruise was that tall, or wide. So, maybe the term was one of those simile or metaphor things that were all the rage in my English class at the time. So, what was Mav’ doing that would fit the descriptor…?
I found other people that were described as ‘larger than life’. Most of them were stars (the media type) or fictional characters (the super hero type). So, for a time, ‘larger than life’ meant someone who did, or could do, things regular people couldn’t (this turns out to be sort of true in my own definition, but it’s not the definition I believe in).
This definition is false. If you operate on the TV star and superhero definition of larger than life, then ‘larger than life’ starts to mean the same thing as ‘made for TV’. Under this definition whatever you choose to call ‘larger than life’ is fake. It’s something that doesn’t happen in real life. So, how could a character be described as larger than life in the context of his or her own reality?
The search continued.
Years went on.
I found the answer.
The truth is you can be larger than life.
But it isn’t easy.
The answer (at least as I have found it)
You can be larger than life, but it isn’t easy.
Over time pieces fell into place for me. I came to understand. I’m still trying to actually do and become…
Larger than life doesn’t just mean physically bigger, or something that normal folks can’t do (they can if they work at it). Being Larger than life is a real achievable thing that appears as a feature of heroes, those whose names and stories are written large in the world.
Being larger than life isn’t necessarily a physical thing. It isn’t entirely a symbolic thing. Being larger than life is a philosophical thing, it is a way of living. One might even call it a spiritual thing.
I don’t remember the precise moment I realized it. I think it’s something that develops in you over time. To be larger than life means to be aware of, and focused on, something larger than the day to day details of life. It doesn’t mean you don’t do the day to day details, but it means your purpose, the thing you focus on, is something larger, something more meaningful. You are larger than life when you get through the challenges of daily life and don’t get trapped or consumed by them. You become larger than life when you will endure the day to day frustrations to achieve a greater purpose.
The artist who skips meals to buy brushes and paint; the person who runs into harm’s way to save a life; the parent/spouse/brother/sister who puts aside his or her own fear, sadness, or frustration to comfort a family member; these are the real larger than life people. Being larger than life means looking past the now to something greater, something more important, and then actually doing something to get there.
Being larger than life means living for things that you know are good and right; living for goals and ideals rather than praise and paychecks. That is what makes it so difficult to achieve.
I can’t say I’m perfect at it. I am not yet entirely larger than life, but I am trying dear reader. I am trying. I know that I can be larger than life, and so can you.
Being larger than life takes a lot of effort. It means putting aside vanity and foolishness in order to strive for something greater. Sometimes it means you stop worrying about ‘optics’, appearances, and ‘dignity’; but when you choose to rise above and strive for something greater who and what you are rises above the day to day as well. When you choose to rise above the day to day concerns and do something greater you become larger than life. Real dignity, satisfaction, all of the literal and spiritual things you need await and will come to you when you need them and you are ready for them.
It is scary dear reader, but it is worth it.
That’s it for this one. Until next time…
Try being a bit bigger, standing a bit taller. Trust me, it’s worth it.