Did Warren Beatty Need Mussar at the Oscars?

Did Warren Beatty Need Mussar at the Oscars?
Photo courtesy of Disney/ABC TV via Flickr CC

Did you watch the Oscars? Even if you didn’t, you probably heard that there was a colossal error: The wrong winner for best picture was announced. It was a surreal moment — in the middle of his acceptance speech, the producer of La La Land suddenly said “Moonlight won, this isn’t a joke.”

It was a real stunner, and a real bummer. Warren Beatty, who along with Faye Dunaway made the announcement, explained what happened. Apparently, he was handed the wrong envelope, and it read “Emma Stone, La La Land.” He looked in the envelop, read slowly, and was understandably confused. In hindsight, he could have said “Hey, something doesn’t seem right. Let me check backstage to make sure this is correct.” It raises the question: Did Warren Beatty Need Mussar at the Oscars?

Mussar teaches us to be in the moment, and perhaps if Beatty were a practitioner, he would have behaved differently. Maybe he would have called on the Soul Trait of Enthusiasm to overcome his paralysis and run over to the side to check with someone backstage. Or maybe he would have called on Equanimity to have the presence of mind to ask someone to come double check right there on live TV. But of course Mussar is not a practice for us to back seat drive other people’s lives.

The question for me is why am I obsessed with this mistake on an awards show? I feel badly for the cast and crew of La La Land, who thought for a moment that they won the big one. And I feel badly for the Moonlight folks whose moment in the sun was tarnished. Then I remind myself — no one here is suffering too badly. Everyone made a great movie, and both movies won Oscars and recognition.

The Soul Trait being activated for me is Order — I like things to happen the way they are supposed to happen. When they don’t, I am bothered. I’m reminded of the mistake I made at my Bar Mitzvah that haunted me for years. And I’m reminded of when my grandmother touched the chuppah and it went crashing over at my wedding. My grandmother was fine — she rightly put the responsibility on the planners who had an unstable design. But I was bothered.

To quote David Byrne “Things fall apart; it’s scientific.” I’ll take this an an opportunity to remind myself to be a bit more flexible, and a bit more forgiving when things don’t go to plan.

Where do you come down on the spectrum of Order? Do you get stressed when things deviate from your expectations? If you are like me in that respect, we can both practice a bit of Trust, remembering that things usually work out in the end. And when they don’t go according to plan, sometimes something wonderful and unexpected emerges.

Please comment below.

Remember a few months ago when you had an opportunity to give feedback on the mantra card design? They are now done and on sale. See the final designs here.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Greg Marcus’s story.