One of my favorite movies is Defending Your Life, about the between-lifetime adventures of Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) and Julia (Meryl Streep). Daniel and Julia are recently departed Souls whose lives are on trial to determine whether they get to “move on” or must to return to Earth to make more progress on their life goals and challenges. They meet and fall in love in Judgement City, a way station between lives where their trials are held.
Rip Torn plays Bob Diamond, the lawyer for Daniel, whose case is much less likely to succeed than that of Julia, a brave and virtuous heroine by all accounts. Daniel is judged as having been too fearful and risk-aversive, based on scenes from his life shown in the courtroom. Rip Torn tries to defend or apologize for some of the less stellar episodes from Daniel’s life, but he is clearly aware the verdict is going to go against Daniel. So, near the end (I will not spoil the twist ending; worth seeing!), Julia is moving on and up, but Daniel boards a bus taking Souls back to Earth to be reincarnated, to hopefully recognize and learn their lessons better the next time around.
There is also an excellent non-fiction book on the same theme: The Journey of Souls, by Dr. Michael Newton. Newton interviewed over a hundred people while they were under hypnosis, not about ‘past lives’ but rather about between incarnations. He discovered a high degree of intersubjective agreement among these many people’s accounts; they provided very similar descriptions! Among other shared factors, they talked about undergoing a life review process to determine how far they had come during their last lifetime toward fulfilling certain goals or learning particular lessons. Here is the intersection with the film, Defending Your Life.
Honestly this film and book have long been part of my background motivation for writing Your Life Path (2018) and my soon to be released simpler and I think the reader will find more fun and creative journaling sandbox: Better Endings: A Guidebook for Creative Re-Visioning. My thought is, why wait til after or between lives—or later in THIS life, no matter your beliefs!—to find out how you are doing with your deepest life mission and goals. It can be very illuminating to step back and do some basic contemplative or journaling life reflection, here and now, to take stock and maybe consider some basic or highly desirable mid-life corrections you might want to make, before ‘moving on,’ in THIS life!
Better Endings Story Seed:
Defending Your Life (to Now)
Imagine (playfully) that you have passed Beyond; just temporarily, let’s say. You find yourself in Judgement City, where a lawyer defends your case for ‘moving on’ in a courtroom with a judge and several wise-appearing jurors looking on. Your lawyer and a prosecuting lawyer against your transcending show some brief clips from your life to emphasize why you should return for another life to work on unfinished lessons, or to show how you have fulfilled your purpose and are ready to ‘move on’.
List 3-5 of your life events the lawyers might show in these clips, including at least one from both positive and less positive moments. What lesson or lessons are you still working on? Where to from here then,
to fulfill your life’s mission or goals?