Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Revolutionary Road. Do not watch this before going to bed unless you want to be up all night.

Last night I watched Revolutionary Road and I'm trying to think of words to describe it other than "bleak and utterly depressing."

If you haven't seen it or read the book, it follows the story of April and Frank Wheeler who, with a slight chip on their shoulders, believe that they are better than their suburban Connecticut counterparts; that they aren't going to buy into the delusion of the American dream despite their picturesque home, 2 children and his good (though unfulfilling) job. The 1955 setting adds to April's feeling of entrapment and some of the social pressure Frank feels.

It's interesting because I usually associate entitlement with my own generation...but usually that entitlement still resounds within the modern American Dream...wanting the life that it took our parents decades to build almost immediately after college. The Wheelers sense of entitlement is that they think that there should be something more to life for them.

And they're right. There is something more to life--but I think I think I think that it is completely separate from our place and our things (though I am in love with my city and I am guilty of saying my life would be perfect if I only had a porch and a grill). My sweet poet friend Shannon titled a photo album "The Land of the Living" and that phrase jumped out at me (as I was online after watching this movie, trying not to fall asleep thinking about the bleak and utterly depressing film). I guess I feel like the minute we...I start living out of routine and checking the boxes of what needs to get done I stop living. But when I remember that its about loving people and that everyone has a story to tell and that there are little moments waiting to make me smile, I am reminded about what living really is.

So my question is what makes up your land of the living? What are the things that remind you that life is beautiful?

One of my favorites is from 2002 when I was driving with a caravan of 3 mini vans back to Ohio from a spring break spent camping trip on an island in Florida. Sitting in the front passenger seat, playing my favorite songs with the windows down and my hand rising and falling with the air outside of it and orange blossoms in bloom, my friend Sarah and I could do nothing but smile and declare ironically at the end of a vacation, on our way back to gray Ohio March that life is good. A passage from The Secret Life of Bees describes this feeling perfectly:

"I didn't know what to think, but what I felt was magnetic and so big it ached like the moon had entered my chest and filled it up. The only thing I could compare it to was the feeling I got one time when I walked back from the peach stand and saw the sun spreading across the late afternoon, setting the top of the orchard on fire while darkness collected underneath. Silence had hovered over my head, beauty multiplying in the air, the trees so transparent I felt I could see through to something pure inside them. My chest ached then, too, this very same way."

And even though they're fictional, I wish that the Wheelers could see how such small moments connect the dots of our existence--giving it beauty and meaning alongside the sorrow and disappointments.

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