Listen to Bill Murray Lead a Guided Meditation on How It Feels to Be Bill Murray

Pho­to by Gage Skid­more, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

How does it feel to be Bill Mur­ray?

Won­der­ful, pre­sum­ably. You’re wealthy, well respect­ed, and high­ly sought. Your ran­dom real world cameos bring joy to scores of unsus­pect­ing mor­tals.

Mur­ray’s St. Vin­cent direc­tor Ted Melfi cites his abil­i­ty to inhab­it the present moment:

He does­n’t care about what just hap­pened. He does­n’t think about what’s going to hap­pen. He does­n’t even book round-trip tick­ets. Bill buys one-ways and then decides when he wants to go home.

A stun­ning­ly good use of wealth and pow­er. If he were any­one but the inim­itable Bill Mur­ray, I bet we’d be seething with envi­ous class rage.

He devis­es the rules by which he plays, from the way he rubs shoul­ders with the com­mon man to the toll free num­ber that serves as his agent to indulging in cre­ative acts of rebel­lion that could get a younger, less nuanced star labelled brat­ty, if not men­tal­ly ill, and des­per­ate­ly in need of rehab.

As if Mur­ray needs any­one else to deter­mine when he needs a break. When his 1984 film adap­ta­tion of Som­er­set Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge failed at the box office, he grant­ed him­self a four year sab­bat­i­cal. He stud­ied his­to­ry and phi­los­o­phy at the Sor­bonne, became fas­ci­nat­ed with the Gre­co-Armen­ian mys­tic George Gur­d­j­eff…and learned how to avoid spook­ing the pub­lic by putting a light spin on a clear­ly trans­for­ma­tive expe­ri­ence:

I’ve retired a cou­ple of times. It’s great, because you can just say, “Oh, I’m sor­ry. I’m retired.” And peo­ple will actu­al­ly believe that you’ve retired. There are nut­ters out there that will go, “Oh, okay!” and then leave you alone.

But how does it real­ly feel to be Bill Mur­ray?

Relax­ing, appar­ent­ly:

…some­one told me some secrets ear­ly on about liv­ing, and that you just have to remind your­self … you can do the very best you can when you’re very very relaxed. No mat­ter what it is, what­ev­er your job is, the more relaxed you are the bet­ter you are. That’s sort of why I got into act­ing. I real­ized the more fun I had the bet­ter I did it and I thought, that’s a job I can be proud of. If I had to go to work and no mat­ter what my con­di­tion, no mat­ter what my mood is, no mat­ter how I feel … if I can relax myself and enjoy what I’m doing and have fun with it, I can do my job real­ly well. It has changed my life, learn­ing that.

When the ques­tion was put to him at the 2014 Toron­to Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val, Mur­ray led a guid­ed med­i­ta­tion, below, to help the audi­ence get a feel for what it feels like to be as relaxed and in the moment as Bill Mur­ray. Putting all jok­ing to the side, he shares his for­mu­la as sin­cere­ly as Mr. Rogers address­ing his young tele­vi­sion audi­ence. Don’t for­get that this is a man who read the poet­ry of Emi­ly Dick­in­son to a room­ful of rapt con­struc­tion work­ers with a straight and con­fi­dent face. Com­plete text is below.

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, damn it, 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.

via One Being

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bill Mur­ray Reads Great Poet­ry by Bil­ly Collins, Cole Porter, and Sarah Man­gu­so

Bill Mur­ray Gives a Delight­ful Dra­mat­ic Read­ing of Twain’s Huck­le­ber­ry Finn (1996)

Bill Mur­ray Sings the Poet­ry of Bob Dylan: Shel­ter From the Storm

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday


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Comments (4)
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  • Patti Panuccio says:

    What a great read. I fell in love with Bill Mur­ray because of The Razor’s Edge, his per­for­mance was won­der­ful and I wish it could be released I think it might find it’s audi­ence now.

  • William L says:

    Bill is one laid back cat. He is one of the least pre­ten­tious celebri­ties I’ve ever seen. He is ground­ed, as well as cen­tered. Not self-cen­tered, but cen­tered in a way of being here, now, in this instant. He’s not con­cerned with pro­ject­ing an image of him­self. He’s doing that already by not doing it. He is that calm cen­ter of the storm, the island tran­quil­i­ty and refuge. He’s not a dude, he’s a cat. A cool cat.

  • Donna Nole says:

    Know him only from his works, and from what I just read, like him even more. He has giv­en us hours of laugh­ter cre­at­ing a much need­ed lit­tle escape from the hum drums of every­day life. Thanks for shar­ing. GO CUBS

  • Fay says:

    I love this, and i love Mr Bill Mur­ray for being who he is. We need more like him if we are to sur­vive our­selves and move beyond destruc­tive sense­less cap­i­tal­ism that real­ly only ben­e­fits the very few at the cost of the joy of life of the many.

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