Tag Archive: story


Tangled

Perhaps I should be bashful about having watched two movies in two consecutive nights.

But I’m not.

The background to this is that I’ve been coughing my lungs up (with great elegance, I might add) (…? who am I?), and so I’ve been bedridden for the last day and a half. Consequently, I’ve been reading, knitting, chasing thoughts whilst staring at my ceiling, and watching 30 Rock with my dear brothers (it’s rare that they’re both home).

My dear friend Claudia has given me company for much of the past 2 days, for which I am a little bit overwhelmed – thankful, grateful (there’s a semantic difference there, surely?) and feeling very blessed by her gracious love towards me. In fact, that’s something that I was talking with Blythe and Clouds today about: how being sick for the past 6 years has been something that God has used to weather down my stubborn independence from people. In that, I used to not ever want to accept help from people. I would never take days off school, I would refuse assistance and would generally try to do things by myself. Because people helping you makes you incompetent, right?

Praise be to the grace of God that He has saved me from myself, and is refining that part of my personality away. Generally being physically unable to do the same things I used to do has taken me on an uncomfortable road to accepting help, initially out of necessity. I think that necessity broke a lot of my barriers down, which may have paved the way for greater humility to accept grace from people.

But this totally wasn’t what I started this entry to write about.

TANGLED.

I’m getting tired, so this is briefly what I wanted to say. Sometimes people get angsty about Disney movies, and the way they instill unrealistic expectations about what a child’s life can be into their impressionable hearts. But, you see, I feel that there’s something in the DNA of humanity that instructs us to lift our vision to grander stories; legends, mythologies, dreamtime stories, fairytales… aren’t these a testament to the longing of the human heart to live bigger, to be a part of something greater than themselves and their present circumstances? Definitely, I think that there is a place for skepticism, in that we don’t want to have our heads so up in the clouds about what could be in a different reality that we spend our real lives gazing longingly into the horizon, and never actually do anything with the time given to us. BUT cynicism, that reactive disposition of the heart that fears the pain of those dreams never being realised, is crippling and destructive.

See, I think that we WERE made to live bigger, bolder and riskier lives. Lives of faith, lives that see us stepping out in heavy dependance that our God is in control and will come through for us. I think our hearts were wired with the grand narrative of eternity set in them, this deep pulse that knows that our lives, our selves, were made to participate in the greatest story ever told. That we are valued and treasured. No, I don’t think that the happily ever afters are ours on this side of Jesus’ return; no, I don’t think that this longing for a fairytale life is helpful or healthy if it leads you to put off living your life, perennially waiting for something magnificent to occur.

But living boldly, loving recklessly, and living a life of risky faith – living OBEDIENTLY to a wildly passionate and steadfastly loving God? Doesn’t that sound like a life worth writing a story about? Or, rather: doesn’t that sound like a life that is a penstroke in the greatest story ever told?

I certainly think so.

 

Stranger than Fiction

Four years ago, around this time of year (June/July), you could find me watching, pausing, re-winding, and re-watching two Marc Foster films. One was a beautiful piece starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet (Finding Neverland), and the other was this present piece, featuring Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thomson and Dustin Hoffman (even Queen Latifah?!). The former was a supplementary text for 2U English in my HSC, and the latter, Stranger than Fiction, was a supp text for 3U English.

To say that I loved 3U would be an understatement. For starters, I had the best and most influential teacher I have ever had: Hoody was my debating coach, my 4U mentor, and my 3U teacher, and he made Postmodernism a JOY. Our class of about 10 was ridiculously entertaining, intellectually rigorous, and really relaxed, which was such a fantastic learning environment.

Hoody and Jamie. Hand = Very self-aware. Classic.

Postmodernism is fundamentally a dynamic concept, because it is reactionary; it offers a response to the dominant themes and discourses of the social, cultural and intellectual epoch in which it exists. It shouldn’t be altogether surprising that there are several, not necessarily cohesive, impulses encompassed within postmodern theory. But there are bound together by a similar approach to textual construction and analysis.

Baudrillard said, epitomising the sense of belatedness which pervades postmodernism, that “everything has already occurred… nothing new can happen.” Accordingly, the postmodernist seeks to play around with the existing material, in order to present their message. It is innovation, not creation.

Stranger than Fiction focuses explicitly on itself as a construct, exploring originality, the control of meaning and authorship in a brilliantly executed artwork.

The premise is simple, but the nuance comes in the execution. Harold Crick (Ferrell) is a senior IRS agent whose bland existence is interrupted by the sudden intrusion of a disembodied voice, apparently narrating his life. Playful ontological games ensue, blurring the barriers between the constructor and the constructed, as the author who narrates Harold’s life (Thompson) enters the plot as a character on the same ontological level as the character whose story she is constructing. What is pricked my interest as I watched it again last night, was how much it reminded me of Don Miller’s ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years’, and the whole notion of living a good story. You see, Karen Eiffel (Thompson) is an author who is notorious for killing off all of her main characters; Crick discovers this, much to his alarm, when she narrates that, “Little did he know that this seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death.” Without disclosing much of the plot, this revelation catalyses a totally new life for Harold; he LIVES boldly, forging headlong through his fears and insecurities, doing things he would never have dared to do in his ‘previous life’. Freed from the tyranny of routine, he is reckless in his pursuit of love and life – he has a clarity of vision about what is significant in the face of the brevity of his life! This is the final voiceover:

As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren’t any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.

At its heart, I think the movie valorizes experience over theory and love over cynicism. I think it wouldn’t be stretching it to say that it is a universal sentiment to long to live to suck the marrow out of life. To have a sense of one’s own mortality, to invigorate and motivate the self to dwell fully in the present and to live according to what matters – this sentiment isn’t novel!

In fact, the Psalmist expressed this longing:

“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.” (39:4)

But I feel that although living in a gear of life that savours the nuances of life isn’t all there is to the sentiment. I think it finds its roots much deeper in the human heart. We are but a breath. We long for our lives to count for something. And I think that’s because our hearts were fashioned to participate in a great story, to be caught up in greatness outside of ourselves, a magnificence so captivating and other that we revel in the bliss of self-forgetfulness. We become more ourselves than we have ever been before; everything is illuminated by the brightness and beauty of the one in whom true life is found.

There is not a frenetic striving to make your life count, because settling in your place within the grander narrative lends a joy in soaking up and leveraging the insignificant moments. It isn’t all about you. So you can be content in simply being faithful with the moments given to you.

Why waste life on trivialities