|The Deer Make-Up in Question|
I went to the movies last night and saw “Gravity” upon the recommendation of most of my Facebook timeline. It seemed appropriate – Halloween is the day when you’re supposed to let yourself be scared, and I’m much more likely to watch a science fiction thriller than a bloody horror flick. So with my face painted like a deer, 3D glasses, and tub of butter popcorn at my disposal, I settled in for some fun.
I wasn’t prepared for the visceral impact this movie would have.
Thankfully I was the only person in the theatre, because throughout the film I would frequently fling my arms up around my head in stunned fear or let loose an “oh God, no!” despite the fact that I hate it when people talk through movies. This movie, y’all. Holy Hell, this movie. It was gorgeous. And terrifying. And heart-wrenching. And grip-your-chair-arms intense.
When it was over (it was only 90+minutes), I walked to my car and started driving home. And then burst into tears.
“Gravity” was exactly what excellent Sci-Fi should be – a story framed by the technologically (im)possible but focused on the heady questions of existence and life. As I drove along the seawall, catching glimpses of rough seas and shredded cloud-cover and the lights of stars long dead, I tried to make sense of what I’d seen. It’s the consequence of degree programs that push analysis and elaboration; you can never “just” watch or read anything ever again.
As I reflected, it occurred to me that “Gravity” was about more than just the titanic struggle of astronauts; it was about, amongst other things, the desperate struggle to live in the aftermath of the cataclysmic choices of other people; it was about the aching loneliness that survivors feel as they struggle to carry on; it was about the difference between merely living and choosing life. It was, at its heart, a story about what it means to be human – to suffer, to experience joy, to accept defeat, to conquer adversity, to let go, to live with hope, to die with dignity.
Or maybe that’s what I saw because I see all things through the lens of my own history and experience. In Sandra Bullock’s character, I saw myself – the numbness, the hopelessness, the fear, the anxiety, the incredulity that life could really go as badly as it was. But I also saw myself in her struggle for meaning, her relentless unwillingness to lose it all, and her self-discovery that she wanted more than just existence but LIFE. To search for dawn, and earth in her hands, and the possibility for a tomorrow that isn’t burdened by loss.
For so long, I thought I was the shredded remains of a life destroyed, listless in the vacuum of tragedy, being pummeled over and over by the circling consequences of Cliff’s choices, consequences that never seemed to stop multiplying. But I cried in my car on the drive home from a space-movie because I realized I am more than a scarred victim – I am the triumphant survivor who has emerged from the unthinkable and discovered that I still have the power to walk.
Choose to LIVE my friends. Choose to carry on. Choose to walk out of your own darkness. And if it seems too hard, call on me and I will venture back into the shadows for you. We can make it – together.