Archives For love

Life, as they say, goes on. The show must go on. I get up everyday, by God’s grace, and carry on. But what happens when life doesn’t go on? For those three thousand souls, September 11th, 2001 was just another day.

Life was going on.

They arose, bathed, dressed, went off into the wide world on all manner of business. Trying to make it to the office, make flights, maybe make love to their spouses before heading out. Maybe working out before a busy day. None of them knowing that life would not be going on too much longer. Not one knew, as each readied for the day, that these moments would be the last with family. The last hugs and kisses. The last sound of children’s laughter (or sibling rivalry). So many lasts

I remember them today, those for whom life did not go on.

I also remember their friends, and family members, each of whom–in the wake of tragedy and loss–had to find a way to go. I remember the emergency service workers, rushing into to burning buildings while others rushed out. They made the ultimate sacrifice for those whom they did not know; it didn’t matter–life is what mattered. Saving as many human souls as possible is what mattered.

I remember us today: we, the living. I pray we remember what a precious gift life is, and how it can snatched away in but an instant. We never know when once we step out the door what a day will hold.

#NeverForget

'notting hill' photo (c) 2010, Nikos Roussos - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I’m a happily married man of many years. As such, it happens that I’m contractually obligated to see a certain number of romantic comedies per annum. As there really haven’t been any romcoms produced of late (what’s up with that, Hollywood?), I’d like to reflect upon one of my favorites (did I just say that?):

Notting Hill.

Starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, they play variations of themselves (shocking, I know). The more I watch it, the more layers I peel back. Because this movie works on so many levels. It’s a meditation on celebrity, society’s obsession with it, and the consequences of that celebrity.

But mainly it’s about wish fullfilment.

There’s a hang dog, down on his luck book shop owner (I’ll leave it to you to puzzle out who plays this part), and a starlet, whose paths cross in the most ordinary of ways: shopping. Upon their first meeting, Grant’s William Thacker is nonplussed by Julia Roberts’s Anna Scott. In fact, excuses himself to deal with a shoplifter. In our world, one wouldn’t think that such souls would be drawn together, right?

Think again.

Upon their second meeting, later that same morning, Thacker bumps into Scott, spilling orange juice all over both them. He prevails upon her to tidy up at his house (it being just eighteen yards away). This is where the movie takes a turn. And for years, this particular turn bothered me.

After Scott returns to retrieve a forgotten bag, she kisses Thacker. In what world would a celebrity do this? It doesn’t seem realistic. Yet, the heart is fickle, right? I believe it is her desire for some degree of normalcy which prompts this. This self-effacing, unassuming Englishman represents something she doesn’t have: a normal life.

And for him, the kiss awakens a repressed desire for anything other than the quiet life of obscurity he’s been living.

Each represents for the other a fulfillment of a wish: a dream of a different life.

All of the best movies, in my opinion, awaken a similar longing in us; namely, that there’s got to be more. The late, great C.S. Lewis said that “If I find in myself desires that nothing in this world can satisfy, it stands to reason that I was made for another world.”

This is what the best movies, whether romcoms or otherwise, do: evoke in us that longing for that other world. That world where love never dies, where all is indeed right…

Where there is neither sickness nor pain nor tears… for all of these have passed away. But this is not that world. We are still in Act III of the play.

Notting Hill, despite its flaws, reminds that the path to lasting love is fraught with difficulty. But it is possible to find it. If we are willing to plunge into the pain, confront our demons, and work at it. That love won’t be perfect, and it often works best when we’re willing to lay aside our expectations–our wishes–and embrace what is.

We are all that girl, are we not? Standing in front of someone, asking them to love us…

Someday it will all be worth it.

What do you think? Have you seen Notting Hill?