A strange lesson in rhythm from Steve Martin, and his movie The Jerk

I admit, I find lessons in life from some of the strangest places. I found one from Steve Martin, and his movie The Jerk. The movie was in the 1970’s and it depicted Steve Martin’s character as a white man living with a Black family in Mississippi.

The gag in the movie, was that he thought he was Black. The Black family knew he was white, but he didn’t seem to get it. They’d play this amazing rhythm and blues music and Steve wouldn’t get it. He’d snap his fingers, and he couldn’t keep time. They shook their heads, and carried on.

One day, some Big Band music came on, what the Black Family called “white music,” and Steve Martin, started to dance, he kept perfect time. He began to glide in perfect rhythm to the music. He’d found his true rhythm.

I thought about that movie from so many years ago, because, I’ve seen so many people, including myself, who are out of rhythm with what they should, or could be doing. For me, for so many years, I really wanted to write, to be a writer.

I held myself back. I wanted money, and well who doesn’t. Most writers know, all to well, that writing is not a road to riches. It is actually the opposite, it probably has kept many writers poor. And as for Poets, well there’s no helping Poets, that’s just the road to the poorhouse. Sorry about that, just my bias.

For many years, I was a salesman, I had my own company, and I did well, but there was a thing, that feeling, that I was out of rhythm, out of tune with myself. I waited until I retired from my business to renew my writing career. It feels great, yes it feels like I’m more in tune, there is a rhythm, now. No I’m not snapping my fingers at my desk, but I’m often humming a tune.

Perhaps, there is a relaxation now. I don’t need to write to make money. I write because I want to, well actually, some times I need to. There is a rhythm when I write. One word follows another, characters appear, they say things, and they interact with one another. Like a small orchestra or band making music. A nice feeling is generated at the end of the day, as I look over pages of writing, and see something that was transformed from a blank page.

I think we know what makes us more in tune, more in rhythm with ourselves. No, it doesn’t have to be writing, or music, or anything to do with the arts, just being more in tune with ourselves, and who we are, and feel as human beings. Perhaps writing, gets me more to my human side, and that’s why I it like so much.

I can only recommend, if you feel out of rhythm, similar to Steve Martins’ character in the Jerk, perhaps try a new tune, something may happen. It did for me, and it is very nice.

I wish all of you who write, great writing, wonderful reviews, and fantastic sales.

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Lyle Nicholson is the author of four novels, two novellas and a short story, as well as several articles published in Canadian Magazines and Newspapers. His path to his writing was first as a terrible actor in a Johnny Cash movie, called Gospel Road. He played Andrew the Apostle and apologizes to all who see him in the movie.
He was also a disobedient monk for several years and left the monastery to work at several jobs he’d was highly unsuccessful at until he started his own sales agency, where he finally had success. This was to the delight of his wife and his mother.
He retired in 2011 and took up writing full time. He now lives with his lovely wife in Kelowna, where he writes, cooks and indulges in fine wines.