We finally saw Boyhood a few nights ago. Have you yet? The movie starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, the one filmed with the same cast over about a decade? It’s both award-winning and simple, a Texas boy’s coming of age story and a fairly typical modern family story, too, one shadowed by divorce, domestic abuse, blended families, and alcoholism. Whew, typing that synopsis pretty well sums up my take-away feeling from the movie. I honestly never want to see it again, haha. But one strand of beauty does run through the whole mess, and that’s what I’d love to share with you now.
About two-thirds of the way through the movie, when the two siblings are teenagers and spending time with their Dad (Ethan Hawke) and his wife and family, they all sit around at sunset singing a song with acoustic guitar accompaniment. They are drinking lemonade and just luxuriating in each other’s company. Apparently the song they are singing is one they all have written and rehearsed together, and it’s sweet and funny and sad.
The best lines of the whole movie are in that song. They lilt through snippets of good news and bad news and harmonize how in life arrivals and departures happen side by side. It reminds me of the late 90’s Live song Lightning Crashes. Remember it?
Lightning crashes, a new mother cries
Her placenta falls to the floor
The angel opens her eyes
The confusion sets in
Before the doctor can even close the door
Lightning crashes, an old mother dies
Her intentions fall to the floor
The angel closes her eyes
The confusion that was hers
Belongs now to the baby down the hall
Oh, I feel it comin’ back again
Like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind
Forces pullin’ from the centre of the Earth again
I can feel it
I love that song.
All of us experience this dichotomy throughout life, perhaps constantly if we pay enough attention. People die suddenly; estranged loved ones return to the fold. Friendships end; we meet new friends. Jobs change. We pack up and move. Animals come and go. The loves and losses are unending. Handsome and I have joked (often with maniacal laughter) that sometimes we feel whiplash from the good-news-bad-news dance.
But to my thinking it can serve to keep us steady. I’m no longer so bothered by the balance of light and dark. This ebb and flow is natural, healthy, right. And trying to weigh the value of these sorrow-and-joy exchanges is is pretty pointless. I’m just grateful to be learning how to ride the waves and accept lessons along the way. Rail a little less against those things outside of my control. Embrace a little more the good when it swells up.
Maybe today, as the moon enters a new phase and our energy begins to build again, before a new work week begins, is a great time to take a deep breath. Remember that both love and loss are meant to be woven into the fabric of our days. We can’t have one without the other. That’s ok.
“You must let what happens happen.
Everything must be equal in your eyes,
good and evil, beautiful and ugly, foolish and wise.”
~Michael Ende,The Neverending Story