Going All In

I used to watch I Love Lucy.

I bought every pratfall. Every setup. Every smashup.

I bought it all hook, line, and sinker for one reason:

Lucy went all in.

As critic James Agee wrote in Time: “[Lucy] tackles her ’emotional’ role as if it were sirloin and she didn’t care who was looking.”

When was the last time you tackled something like it was sirloin? Or seitan? And didn’t care who was looking?

When was the last time you went all in?

It’s safe to hold back. To bring our B Game.

In middle school, I was a ho-hum science student. I gave tests a ho-hum effort. And got ho-hum grades. But, I reassured myself, it’s no reflection of your smarts, Whelan. Because you didn’t give it your all.

It was a limp handshake arrangement.

And that’s what bringing our B Game is. It’s an arrangement we make with ourselves. To keep us safe and sound. To keep our vulnerability off limits. To keep us from humiliation, disappointment, failure.

But all this keeping? It keeps us from going all in. Which is a shame.

The world loves those who go all in.

For the six years it aired, I Love Lucy was the most successful comedy in America.

But we don’t owe it to the world.

We owe it to ourselves.

We owe it to ourselves to run headlong into the unfenced capacity we all house. That capacity that towers over our doubts and worries and anxieties.

It’s the fierce way. It’s the hard way. And it’s an unapologetic commitment to this life we’ve got.

Bill Murray was at a movie theater in Toronto doing a Q & A.

An audience member asked how it felt to be Bill Murray. The actor flipped the question on its head:

“What’s it like to be me? Ask yourself, ‘What’s it like to be me?’ 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.”

We were made to go all in.

It’s time to go home.

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