Over the weekend, Barbara and I saw "The Mask of Zorro", with Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins. Great movie - funny, fast-paced, and satisfying.
But afterwards, Barbara said something that made me rather sad, on reflection. Long ago, she'd seen Hopkins in "The Silence of the Lambs", and in this very different role that the actor played, she saw shadows of Hannibal Lechter.
I was fortunate never to have seen that film, but I know the story and the details well enough. And I think it's a tragedy that for many people, Hopkins will be forever associated with that vile image.
But don';t we run the same risk in our daily lives? Each day, we play a role...not in the form of acting, but in simply moving through the day and interacting with others.
Most of those roles are forgettable. Can you remember what your spouse did last Tuesday? Or what your kids did a week ago Saturday?
Can you remember what you did a year ago today?
But some days stand out in memory like a sheet of flame. Usually these are the bad days, like knowing where you were when you heard about 9/11.
If a parent told you that you'd never amount to anything - you probably know exactly where you were and what you were doing.
If a spouse said something particularly cutting, the scene is stuck in your memory, ready to replay.
And the things you said or did - they're remembered, and they help define you in someone else's eyes.
The good things you did help to define you, too. but as Shakespeare said, "The evil men do lives after them, but the good is oft interr'd with their bones". Or, to use a more pithy military saying - "It takes seven 'attaboys' to make up for one 'dumbs**t!' ".
What this means is pretty simple. Be vigilant in what you say or do. Be the person you want others to remember. Guard your tongue, your actions, your heart.
Because you have an audience, and your performance matters.