I went to this great Hindu movie last night: Holiday, Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, 1938. What, you didn't know it was a deeply Hindu philosophical and theological venture? But it's so clear!
The story: boy falls in love with girl, things are revealed, boy falls in love with another girl. Wait, that's not sounding so philosophical/theological, is it? Let's try again: Fun-loving, free-spirited boy - that would be Cary - falls in love with a girl who he thinks shares his values. Turns out she has more cash than God and Bill Gates put together and her main focus in life is finding ways to add to the millions. But she has a fun-loving, free-spirited, redheaded sister who looks a lot like our Kate. Kate and Cary try to convince Stuffy Sister and her father, The Pile of Money, to lighten up and see the adventure in life. Stuffy Sister and The Pile of Money try to convince Cary (they've given up on Kate) that being Rich and Important is the best of all possible lives. Emotional chaos ensues as each side tries to convince the other not to be what they are, and Cary at least tries to convince himself to be what someone else wants him to be. None of it works, of course. There are even a couple of gurus by the names of Nick and Susan Potter who try to show our spunky but misguided leads that the true nature of each must be accepted. Finally, everyone has to recognize and accept who and what they themselves and their "adversaries" are. All becomes right with the world, Kate and Cary kiss, fade to black.
As I could have predicted if I had given it half a thought ahead of time, this movie was exactly what I needed to see.
I drove to the theater feeling forlorn. The evening was not going as planned. My child was off at a sleepover and I wanted to party with friends. I invited a bunch, but to no avail: instead of a loud and rowdy group outing, I was going alone.
Now, in general I am fine with alone. I'm an introvert, for god's sake. But this night I wanted things to be different: I wanted a big group rather than solitude, lots of laughter and chatter rather than quiet introspection. I wanted my friends to be different and put a high value on time with me, I wanted myself to be different with a charisma I've never possessed, I wanted life to be different and provide me with the entertainment I wanted rather than the lesson I needed.
This all sounds pretty petty, and it basically was, but for about a month I've been feeling this need for a mental break from being a dutiful mom and responsible homeowner and conscientious worker. I've felt depression creeping around the edges, and I've simply been tracking it to see what play it would make. I had been thinking that time away from my own thoughts would shake that feeling, and I looked forward to going out as a small break in the action.
So I walk into the movie wanting things to be different, and there in black and white I get reminded that the answer is never in changing things but in accepting them. You may be fun-loving and free-spirited or stuffy and money-hungry or lonely and unremarkable, but when you fight against this you're just fighting the illusion that any of this is ultimately real. Fun or stuffy, lonely or surrounded by friends, we are part of the One that is All, more intimately tied to everything in the universe than our breath is to our body. We can no more change that than Cary can be not charming, or Kate can turn into a soprano. I am a 40-something introvert whose main role is to be a mom rather than the lover and teacher and traveler that I dream of being, and I am as completely a part of the One as the most amazing, successful, beautiful person out there. No amount of thinking, wanting, feeling or desiring can change that. Thank you, Cary and Kate and your lovely Hindu movie, for reminding me.