Remember Me (SPOILER ALERT!!!!)

March 29, 2010 - Comments Off on Remember Me (SPOILER ALERT!!!!)

Reflections on the film, “REMEMBER ME,” starring Rob Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin

This movie haunted me for days afterwards, and that rarely happens to me. I also hardly ever like movies where one of the main characters dies at the end. In fact, movies like that usually outrage me and make me want to demand a ticket refund, even if the movie was good right up until the ending. So I’m not sure why I wasn’t outraged this time.

Maybe it was because when I went to see the movie, I did have a feeling that either Rob’s or Emilie’s character was going to die by the end, based on the title and some brief, vague descriptions I had seen of the film (e.g., ‘it’s about loving passionately and living each day to the fullest,’ or something along those lines). So I went in bracing myself for a death, but usually, I would not have even paid to see a movie where I knew that one of the main characters was going to die – especially in a romantic film. But having seen the trailer and a few clips, I loved the interplay/chemistry between Rob and Emilie, and wanted to see their story play out on screen. Furthermore, I was in the mood for romance, as always, so I went to see the film on opening weekend.

I was bracing myself for death, but for some reason I assumed Emilie would be the one to die, and I was expecting something cliché, like a fatal illness, a la Nicholas Sparks’ “A Walk to Remember.”

Needless to say, the ending was not what I expected. It was so much more devastating than I imagined it would be, and I did not see the signs that apparently some other people noticed much earlier in the film that prepared them for the ending. Like I said, normally a devastating ending would make me really angry that I had bothered seeing the film at all, but I was too sad to be angry. And I guess that means the writer did a really good job, because he made me love the characters so much that I was heartbroken that this would be their fate, almost as though it were happening to my own loved ones.

Furthermore, normally an ending like that would leave me feeling very depressed about life, and only able to focus on the bad taste in my mouth left by the film’s ending, wiping anything else I had liked about the film from my memory. But when this film ended, I was able to contemplate the movie as a whole, and I felt inspired to live fully, to love unconditionally, to forgive, to move forward, to dream, to connect with others, to make a difference in somebody’s life, to fulfill my God-given purpose, to seize the day, and most of all, to write a movie like this that would inspire others in the same way. I love how, despite thinking his life was small and insignificant, Rob’s character was a hero to his little sister. I love that there was reconciliation before tragedy struck. I love that the film resonated with me on so many levels by dealing with themes like suicide, bullying, not fitting in, being an artist, and disconnectedness with parents.

It reminded me of the power of movies and the reasons why I love them and why I find the idea of writing them and working in film so appealing. There are few mediums for artistic expression that impact me as much.
It’s not that “Remember Me” is the best film ever and I found no fault with it. For one thing, I would have written and directed the last 10 minutes of the film differently. I’m not sure such a devastating ending was necessary in order to move me as much as I was moved. And if it’s not absolutely necessary, as a writer, I don’t ever want to put my audience through that.

But if I were going to have such tragedy strike at the end of my film, then I would have directed the actors to show more emotion at the end. I felt as though I, the viewer, was more sorrowful about the tragedy, than the characters who were left behind. I needed more from you at the end, Pierce Brosnan; just as much sorrow from you as the anger you displayed in the earlier confrontation with Rob’s character in the conference room. Especially since to some extent it was Pierce’s fault that Rob was where he was when tragedy struck.
Also, regarding the scene near the end where Emilie’s character is on the subway platform waiting for the train: if this was supposed to be her first time riding the subway since her mother’s murder on a subway platform years earlier (which I assume it was, because if not, then what’s the point of the scene??), then I would have directed Emilie differently, regardless of how the scene was written. We should see a couple of trains come, stop and open their doors, and it should be obvious that Emilie is having an internal struggle about whether or not to board the train, and she ultimately lets 2 trains leave without her. Then the third train comes, opens its doors, and though we still see some hesitation on Emilie’s part, she musters up the courage to get on the train. She will not live in fear anymore; tragedy enlarges her and makes her conquer her fears.

So yes, there are things I would have done differently if I were the writer and/or director of this film. But ultimately it’s still worth two thumbs up because I was entertained, surprised, deeply moved, riveted, and inspired to transcendent reflection. What more could I ask for in a film?

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The Buried Life

March 29, 2010 - Comments Off on The Buried Life

Continuing with my theme of groaning spirits, it’s comforting to know I’m not the first to have one, and I won’t be the last. In fact, I would not be surprised if this theme, this condition, this predicament, is universal, and quite possibly as old as the human race.

I just discovered the poem below. I was on Facebook and noticed that one of my FB friends had become a fan of a page called, “Before I die I want to…”
I was curious so I clicked on the link: apparently it’s an artistic project and the idea is to collect polaroid photos of people stating what it is they want to do before they die. The people photographed must write one of their goals down on the polaroid photo, and submit it for inclusion in a photo book that will be published.
One of the Facebook fans wrote on the page’s wall, saying that the project reminded them of the MTV series, “The Buried Life.” It reminded me of that too. Though I’ve never seen the series, I remembered seeing ads describing the basic premise.
So I went to the tv show’s web site to see if this photo project was affiliated with it in any way. It wasn’t. But a section of the show’s web site caught my eye; it explained where the term “The Buried Life” came from. It turns out it’s based on the poem, “The Buried Life,” written by Matthew Arnold in 1862. I had never heard of it before. I immediately googled it, and was overcome with emotion as I read it. It’s like reading my biography…
Who knew innocent Facebook curiosity could lead to a profound literary experience.

“The Buried Life”
by Matthew Arnold

Light flows our war of mocking words, and yet,
Behold, with tears mine eyes are wet!
I feel a nameless sadness o’er me roll.
Yes, yes, we know that we can jest,
We know, we know that we can smile!
But there’s a something in this breast,
To which thy light words bring no rest,
And thy gay smiles no anodyne.
Give me thy hand, and hush awhile,
And turn those limpid eyes on mine,
And let me read there, love! thy inmost soul.

Alas! is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
I knew the mass of men conceal’d
Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal’d
They would by other men be met
With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
I knew they lived and moved
Trick’d in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves–and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!

But we, my love!–doth a like spell benumb
Our hearts, our voices?–must we too be dumb?

Ah! well for us, if even we,
Even for a moment, can get free
Our heart, and have our lips unchain’d;
For that which seals them hath been deep-ordain’d!

Fate, which foresaw
How frivolous a baby man would be–
By what distractions he would be possess’d,
How he would pour himself in every strife,
And well-nigh change his own identity–
That it might keep from his capricious play
His genuine self, and force him to obey
Even in his own despite his being’s law,
Bade through the deep recesses of our breast
The unregarded river of our life
Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;
And that we should not see
The buried stream, and seem to be
Eddying at large in blind uncertainty,
Though driving on with it eternally.

But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us–to know
Whence our lives come and where they go.
And many a man in his own breast then delves,
But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.
And we have been on many thousand lines,
And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;
But hardly have we, for one little hour,
Been on our own line, have we been ourselves–
Hardly had skill to utter one of all
The nameless feelings that course through our breast,
But they course on for ever unexpress’d.
And long we try in vain to speak and act
Our hidden self, and what we say and do
Is eloquent, is well–but ’tis not true!
And then we will no more be rack’d
With inward striving, and demand
Of all the thousand nothings of the hour
Their stupefying power;
Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call!
Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,
From the soul’s subterranean depth upborne
As from an infinitely distant land,
Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey
A melancholy into all our day.

Only–but this is rare–
When a beloved hand is laid in ours,
When, jaded with the rush and glare
Of the interminable hours,
Our eyes can in another’s eyes read clear,
When our world-deafen’d ear
Is by the tones of a loved voice caress’d–
A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.
The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.
A man becomes aware of his life’s flow,
And hears its winding murmur; and he sees
The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

And there arrives a lull in the hot race
Wherein he doth for ever chase
That flying and elusive shadow, rest.
An air of coolness plays upon his face,
And an unwonted calm pervades his breast.
And then he thinks he knows
The hills where his life rose,
And the sea where it goes.

My Spirit Groans

February 14, 2010 - Comments Off on My Spirit Groans

A friend encouraged me to continue the reflections from a previous posting – “As Good as it Gets.”
At my writer’s group meeting last week, one of the prompts given to us by the person facilitating was this:
“I’d walk a mile for…”

Here is my response to that prompt as well as some relevant scriptures that came to mind:

I’d walk not just a mile, but a thousand miles, if I knew that at the end of my journey, I’d find whatever or whoever would stop the groaning in my spirit. The groaning that stems from my stubborn insistence that life be more than it is, that satisfaction remain forever, that earth be heaven.

The groaning becomes hushed every now and again, when I have a refreshing time in God’s presence, or quality time with friends, or a transcendent creative experience, etc., etc., etc…

But then, within hours, or usually, within moments afterward, and without fail, the groaning sounds start rising again, in higher decibels than before, till my ears practically start ringing and that old familiar mixture of outrage and resignation reverberate in my soul. Outrage that the experience I’ve just had was still not The Experience I had been yearning for – the ultimate one, the lasting one, with permanent, groan-silencing effects. And resignation because of the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that makes me fear that no matter where I look, and how relentless my pursuit, and how deep my desire, The Experience can never be had on earth.

Why does that make me so sad if I truly believe that it can and will be mine to have when I leave this world?…

This is the Gospel Truth:
I am, in fact, walking miles and miles in this journey called life, and at the end of the road, no matter what lies in store for me along the way, I will come face to face with the One who makes all things new and complete. He will quiet my groaning spirit once and for all, and wipe every tear from my eyes, and wrap me in His eternal embrace. An embrace that I get a foretaste of, just a foretaste, in the here and now, and it culminates on that glorious day.

In the meantime, I can choose to embrace Him every day, forsaking all others, feet to the pavement, eyes fixed on the unseen, spurred on by the energy of joyful, eager expectation of His appearing.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

“That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs.

But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs.

These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” (Romans 8:18-25, The Message translation)

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NIV)

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
And let him who hears say, “Come!”
Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
(Revelation 22:17, 20, NIV)

Oh Hair, I love you, I love you not, I love you…

January 17, 2010 - Comments Off on Oh Hair, I love you, I love you not, I love you…

Black women and our hair – a love/hate affair. See the link below for reflections on this topic from a fellow writer. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

http://aabsofsteel.xanga.com/720081238/item/?nextdate=last&leftcmt=1

As Good as it Gets?

December 7, 2009 - One Response

(In response to a Writer’s Group writing prompt: Write about what you’ve had too much of).

I’ve had too much ordinary and not enough adventure. Too much hum-drum, ho-hum, run of the mill. That may be why I have to wrack my brain trying to come up with moments when I’ve felt truly alive. It makes me sad to realize that those moments are the exception, not the rule. I don’t think that’s what God intended, but that’s what is, at least in my experience thus far.

And yet I’ve been to a lot of places that many people would consider exciting. I’m working in an industry that’s perceived as glamorous and exhilarating. But to me it often feels like the cross I take up daily.

I know, I know. Things could be much worse. Indeed, they have been. At least now I’m employed, financially independent, living in a neighborhood I love. I’m grateful for roommates I get along with, co-workers that are decent people, friends and family that care.

But I can’t deny the nagging question forever lingering –

Is this as good as it gets this side of heaven?

Is this all I can expect to experience in my mortal body?

Because for the longest time I thought there was more. Just up ahead. Just beyond the bend. And it kept me going. It kept me hoping.

But I’m past the bend. And I’m older now. Later has come. Soon is right now. And yes, apparently this is my life.

A fresh monotonous day dawns. I get up. I shower. I dress. I eat. I work. I come home. I eat. I brush my teeth. I try wash that old soul look off my face, but it remains.

I lie in bed and assume the fetal position, my blanket of quiet desperation pulled tightly around me. I find rest in fantasies before drifting off to sleep. Too much fantasy for my own good, I confess. But it is my only defense against the waves of reality threatening to drown me.

Uninvited

June 30, 2009 - Comments Off on Uninvited

You make me so sick and tired

Tired of trying to figure out

what I have to do

or say

or be

to get you to see me

to get you to choose me

to get you to want me

like I’ve wanted you

for as long as I can remember

 

Yes, I’ve wanted you

I’ve longed for you

I’ve waited for you

I’ve been on the lookout for you

like the Father for the Prodigal Son

 

But you never came

You won’t come

You’re not coming

So now watch closely as I

vomit you up

spit you out

and flush you down the toilet

to be lost forever in the Big Apple’s

Bermuda Triangular sewer system

right where you belong

 

Listen carefully as I lift my voice with Alanis:

“You’re uninvited.”

 

You think me undesirable

Unworthy

You make me feel invisible

Untouchable

Just plain ugly

Like I reside on my own private leper colony

 

Damn you

Mil veces maldito

 

But I can’t help wanting you

It’s how I’m wired

It’s how I’m cursed

I will want you as long as I breathe

but I don’t need you

I only think that you’re essential for my happiness

but that’s a lie from the Father of Lies

 

You are neither oxygen

nor water

nor the living God

You can’t make me whole

You won’t satisfy

And I am through waiting for you with baited breath

 

Did you hear that?

I just exhaled

I am so done with you and your kind.

 

Hasta nunca

Hold Fast to Dreams

June 7, 2009 - Comments Off on Hold Fast to Dreams

Someone I know passed away recently without ever having fulfilled his dream of relocating down south after retirement. He had retired several years ago, but unfortunately he faced many challenges which prevented him from carrying out his plan to move. One of the things that saddened me the most when I heard of his passing was the fact that he didn’t live to see his dream come true – a dream that under normal circumstances should have been entirely achievable.

It got me thinking about the nature of our dreams. Sure, some of them may be classified as larger than life, like finding the cure for a disease, or putting an end to war and poverty around the world. Those are good dreams, and I’m all for pursuing them in any way you can.

But I’m willing to bet that most of us have dreams that are much more within our reach, but we don’t, or we think we can’t, pursue them. I know it took me years to finally muster up the determination to pursue my dream of having a career in media. Many things prevented me, like fear of failure, fear of the unknown & unfamiliar, fear of change, and unwillingness to sacrifice and to put in the hard work that pursuing my dream would require. So in other words, mostly fear, with some sloth thrown in for good measure: not exactly a recipe for success.

So what made me bite the bullet? Well, for one thing, I believe my dream of being in media isn’t simply a dream, it’s a calling. And God just wouldn’t let me off the hook. Think Jonah in the whale:)

Furthermore, in the words of Anais Nin, “the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

I realized that at the end of my life I would regret having never tried, a lot more than having tried and failed. So I’m trying. I don’t know how it will all turn out, but like my friend EH says, I’m doing it afraid. And I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

I encourage you to follow your God-given dreams as well. Today. Because today is what we have.

It may take many days, months, and even years to actually achieve your dream, but I bet if you think about it long enough, and/or do a little research, you’ll realize there’s some small step forward you can take today.

Life being what it is – yes, there’s a chance your dream won’t come true. But at least you’ll never have to look back and wonder what might have been if you had had the courage to try.

Whenever you’re tempted to think about all the reasons why there’s no point pursuing your dream because it will never happen, think of Susan Boyle. Seriously.

 

 

Dreams   

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow. 

Langston Hughes

“This Heart”

May 25, 2009 - 4 Responses

To live, to hope, to dream again.

It’s God within, lifting up my head.

 

My heart healed and I was unaware

until it opened up to invite someone in

for the first time in too long.

 

This someone declined the invitation

and I confess

I was a hot mess for a minute.

Or a day.

Or a week.

I can’t recall.

 

“To hell with all men everywhere,” I said,

“and too bad I’m not a lesbian.”

 

But when the fog cleared,

it dawned on me that I had dared

to live, to hope, to dream again,

against all odds.

And I was thankful.

 

I had been excommunicated

from the walking dead.

 

Oh, to live and not feel!

It cannot be.

 

What is this stubborn heart,

battered, bruised, bleeding,

flatlining…

then having the audacity

to embrace resurrection

overruling my mind’s objection

every time.

 

What is this heart?

 

It is God within

willing me to love,

to hope,

to dream again.

 

 © Nadine Dixon

May 2009

A Moment Like This

May 9, 2009 - Comments Off on A Moment Like This

The Singing Butler by Jack Vettriano

 

(This post is from a writing exercise we did in my last writer’s group meeting. We had to write something inspired by the painting above, which is “The Singing Butler,” by Jack Vettriano. It’s one of my favorites).

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined a moment like this. At least not for myself. I’m real good at dreaming big dreams for other people, but when it comes to believing in that exceedingly abundantly above stuff for myself, that’s another story.

And yet here I am. This time, God’s ability to act was not limited by my lack of faith.

I’m being held by this man… mmmmm… this man.

An answer to groans that words cannot express, right down to the dimple in his left cheek, my very own cherry on top. So this is what it feels like to dance like this, be held like this, loved like this. We’re practically floating.

And I’m barefoot, outside, in the rain. In the rain! Me, who used to hate being caught in the rain because of the havoc it would wreak on my hair. But now that’s the furthest thought from my mind as I glide. I just want to be fully present in this moment before it’s gone.

Before he’s gone.

He’s taught me so much about that – living in the moment; loosening my grip on my to-do lists. He stole my day planner once and I stopped speaking to him for eleven days, three hours, and thirty-six minutes. He didn’t stop speaking to me though. He bombarded me with text messages, voice mails, and loving notes on my Facebook wall. He was the sweetest stalker ever. Resistance was futile.

“I’m just trying to get you to loosen up a bit, babe. You’ll thank me later,” he said, flashing his dimpled, hundred watt smile.

This man… mmmmm… this man.

And thank him I did.

For pursuing me when I gave him no encouragement. For teaching me to say sorry, and forgiving me before the word was even out of my mouth. For dragging me kicking and screaming on to the path of spontaneity. For letting God love me through him. For holding me like this, and convincing me not to sit this one out, I’ll be forever grateful.

No matter what happens next.

The Call to Write

April 26, 2009 - 2 Responses

A friend asked me recently to elaborate on what I mention in the “About Me” section of this blog about my struggles with the call to write. So I thought I’d share an excerpt from my journal from a few years ago, one of many journal entries dealing with this issue. My friend might be the only one interested in reading this, but perhaps you writers out there (or other types of artists, for that matter) can relate.

————————-

“I wonder how much of my lack of zeal for writing is really just my being lazy and disobedient to God’s calling. I mean, I thought that if a writer writes, and I’m not writing, well I must not be a writer; I must not be cut out for writing. But maybe I’m just not writing because now I know what good writing requires, how hard it is, and I’m chickening out. Taking the easy road.

I’ve never thought of myself as being allergic to hard work. I was always a highly motivated, hard-working student. So what’s up with me and this writing thing??? Am I not doing it because I don’t want to anymore? And do I not want to simply because it’s hard? Doesn’t that make me a quitter? And is not wanting to reason enough not to write? I mean, doesn’t this go over my head/my desires?

Is God calling me to express myself through writing? I think somewhere deep down I believe He is. Otherwise I don’t think I would struggle so much with the notion of writing. And when I need to express something, the first mode of expression I’ve always been inclined to is writing. That would suggest it’s a God-given inclination, I think.

Am I not writing because I think I have no potential as a writer? No talent? Partially. I always tend to underestimate myself, as a writer, or anything for that matter. But the fact is, from childhood I have shown promise as a writer. It has been confirmed by several teachers and others along the way.

That doesn’t mean I have potential for commercial success, necessarily, but I am not responsible for whether or not I am commercially successful. It is up to me to work with my hands. It is God who establishes the work of my hands (Psalm 90:17). I am responsible for answering God’s call to write, if that’s what he is calling me to do. If he is, then writing for me would be a form of worship. And not writing would be not honoring God, because I would not be accepting His invitation to co-create.

Have I been letting myself off the hook by saying, ‘well, God says be a good steward of the gifts he’s given us, but I’m not a gifted writer, so there’s no point in writing?’ Well, the thing is, you have to write in order to know if you’re a gifted writer. And writing is something that you only get better at by doing. And I do think that if I have even a slight gift for writing (like the guy with one talent in the biblical parable of the talents), which I think I have already demonstrated, then I have a responsibility to work at it and water that seed so it grows.

Writing is a discipline. It is not meant to be done only when the writer feels like it. I thought that my lack of “feeling like it” indicated that writing wasn’t for me. But even successful writers I’ve heard or read about have said that they often don’t feel like writing, and have to fight the urge to procrastinate. But they all insist that it is essential to write most, if not every day regardless of their feelings. And writing is hard work for every writer, even the greats. That dispels the myth I believed: that if I were meant to be a writer, it would be easy for me.

I believe currently God is calling me to fall back in love with written stories, as opposed to stories on screen. Written stories were my first love, and so much of TV stories and movie stories are porquería (garbage). It occurs to me that while watching TV, I am watching other people live their lives. The actors, writers, directors, etc, are all expressing themselves creatively; they are living life, and I am simply watching them, rather than living life myself at that moment, by making a contribution, expressing my own stuff, bringing something to the creative table. Something that could very well be as good, if not better than the stuff I’m watching (or not:)

Life is about bringing something to the table; taking part in what happens under the sun, not just observing or criticizing what others bring.”

—————————

Can you feel the self-flagellation in the air? LOL. I am my toughest critic. But I’m learning to be more gracious towards myself these days, mainly because I’m realizing and focusing more on the call to write as God’s gracious, loving invitation to me to join him in the creative process. It’s a call to adventure:)