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The 5-Second "Life in a Day" Test
Growing up, I was obsessed with a series of books called A Very Young——. Each book profiled the day of, say, a child dancer or a child horseback rider or child trapeze artist through exquisite photographs of them training or practicing or eating dinner. I was just a very young child child and looked up to these strange, wondrous people my age who somehow knew what they wanted to do. So when Hulu started a new series called A Day in the Life that tracks interesting adults living their lives over the course of 24 hours, I expected the same kind of approach, especially from the episode featuring Misty Copeland, an African-American ballet dancer. I tuned in for long romantic shots of Misty in a tutu or Misty at the barre or Misty putting on glittering eyeshadow before fluttering on stage for a performance of Swan Lake. Instead the program showed this:
What impressed me most was not that Misty had a real life—one that didn't involve leg warmers—but what she did with her life. Sure, some of her activities had to have been arranged for the cameras, but the truth is, she spent her morning talking to aspiring dancers at the Boys and Girls Club ("I wish I could have had a black woman to talk to. There aren't very many in my field, and I didn't get to meet one..."), then spent her lunch designing dance clothes for people of all sizes ("If I'm a medium, what do all the other people wear?"), then rehearsed for eight hours on her supposed "vacation" from American Ballet Theatre, and, finally, performed for a charity event.
I had to wonder, What would my day look like if it were filmed? Would it reflect the same kind generosity? Everywhere she went, she was helping others. So I made up a little test. Once a month, I'm going to flip open my datebook (or click on a random day in the calendar) and see how I spent that day, and if there was anything scheduled that required my efforts on the behalf of others. If I can pencil in "pick up lock thing for front door," I can also pencil in "drop off meal for lady next door, sick, alone, vegetarian."
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