What Does It Feel To Be Bill Murray?

In Vulture, Bill Murray answers the question of what it feels to be him:

“I think if I’m gonna answer that question, because it is a hard question, I’d like to suggest that we all answer that question right now, while I’m talking. I’ll continue. Believe me, I won’t shut up. I have a microphone. But let’s all ask ourselves that question right now. What does it feel like to be you? What does it feel like to be you? Yeah. It feels good to be you, doesn’t it? It feels good, because there’s one thing that you are — you’re the only one that’s you, right?. So you’re the only one that’s you, and we get confused sometimes — or I do, I think everyone does — you try to compete. You think, Dammit, someone else is trying to be me. Someone else is trying to be me. But I don’t have to armor myself against those people; I don’t have to armor myself against that idea if I can really just relax and feel content in this way and this regard. If I can just feel, just think now: How much do you weigh? This is a thing I like to do with myself when I get lost and I get feeling funny. How much do you weigh? Think about how much each person here weighs and try to feel that weight in your seat right now, in your bottom right now. Parts in your feet and parts in your bum. Just try to feel your own weight, in your own seat, in your own feet. Okay? So if you can feel that weight in your body, if you can come back into the most personal identification, a very personal identification, which is: I am. This is me now. Here I am, right now. This is me now. Then you don’t feel like you have to leave, and be over there, or look over there. You don’t feel like you have to rush off and be somewhere. There’s just a wonderful sense of well-being that begins to circulate up and down, from your top to your bottom. Up and down from your top to your spine. And you feel something that makes you almost want to smile, that makes you want to feel good, that makes you want to feel like you could embrace yourself.

So what’s it like to be me? You can ask yourself, What’s it like to be me? You know, the only way we’ll ever know what it’s like to be you is if you work your best at being you as often as you can, and keep reminding yourself: That’s where home is.”

Remind you of Onlyness? Hope so. Reminds me of a written several years ago in HBR, “Be Your Own Hero“. Excerpt from that piece:

We might learn to define success in our own terms. We might even come up with our own mantra around this

  1. I shall not obsess over others’ success: not copying, idolizing, or mindlessly emulating.
  2. I shall know my purpose and know why I’m doing something.
  3. I shall ally myself to a tribe with a common purpose, though the tribe’s members may work in vastly different fields and forms.
  4. I will make ideas stronger by uniting with others to do great work, not by holding my ideas all to myself but releasing them into the wild.
  5. I recognize the truth in the credo that the future is not created, the future is co-created and will do my part as a part of the whole.

Murray is teaching some of us and reminding the rest of us that we cannot be fully alive, and creating value without connecting with our own work. When we do this, we might go from a culture of fit-the-mold singular narrative of heroes, to a multiplicity of heroes, and heroines — Finding the strength within each of us. Maybe even all of us.


3 Replies

  1. Exceptional response from a really good person (both you and Bill Murray). Thank you for this. Strangely, it took me back to freshman year in college. (Kinda like remembering being born at this stage.) Freshman year in college in Philosophy 101. I remember the professor assigning us the first Dick Hart reading in the textbook. Later that night I mentioned to a friend that I could find any Dick Hart readings and was embarrassed to find out I should have been looking for Descartes. My Onlyness got dented. There were clearly others who were more than I was. Then I read “Discourse on the Method” which to my delight I learned was the origin of “I think therefore I am” which I remember to this day as almost a plea for existence – an argument for reality and for my place in it. Not unlike what Bill Murray is arguing here.

    Thanks, Nilofer.

    1. It’s interesting how the comparative/competitive frame suggests someone is “more than i was” when the collaborative / social frame is about how to contribute, and finding your place in it. Two frames that can fundamentally shift how you take in information, act, and get acted on.

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