Many films in our Short Films Showcase went for the tried and true technique of answering the competition’s challenge question: they asked other people. “What does it mean to be awake in the world,” an aptly-named short by filmmakers Fred Yi and Lauren Talley, stands out from the bunch precisely because they interviewed those among us who don’t particularly stand out. You know, the Everyman! (Or in the lexicon of just-past politics, Joe the Plumber.) Except for Geshe Nicholas Vreeland, a Tibetan Buddhist monk and the abbot of Rato monastery in India, all of the people that Yi and Talley interview are just…normal people. And it’s wonderful, because they answer the question like normal people, using normal people language. 

Sometimes I like this approach better than asking self-identified spiritual practitioners or leaders, because the answers tend to be direct and relatable. “We should enjoy our life, not by just spending money, and we should always like each other,” answers one young boy. Another man responds to the question, “Spending moments with your family.” It might not be dharma, exactly—but then again, perhaps it is.

Check out the film for yourself, and give it a vote! We have until Friday to decide the winner.