It wasn’t until this morning that I put two and two together. I saw the movie yesterday. I seldom go to movies (posted about Les Mis recently). I seldom see one that seems worth the time, and going to a movie alone brings no added incentive to do it. A friend whose opinion I respect suggested that I go to see “Silver Linings Playbook.”
The movie was entertaining, the acting was fantastic; the basic story line was nothing unusual. The core message is simple, but this morning it dawned on me that the movie played out my story in a way that revealed the simple message to be an important one to anyone who faces a life that is outside of his/her control. Does anyone know a life that is not outside his/her control? To think life is under control is to live in a delusion of monumental proportions. I would contend that a whole lot of what we do in our daily lives is done to keep the delusion alive.
On the positive side of it, the delusion helps us keep our bearings, providing markers to help us find our way. The two main characters in the movie on account of their diagnosed mental illness have to face lives completely out of control. They are forced to face reality. They are not in charge of their own lives. Their challenge is to live through a life they cannot fix. They cannot magically become someone else.
What they can do is construct a plan that has a goal that is a stretch for them. In the grand scheme of things the goal is a small, a relatively short term task that demands all their attention. The short term task and the preparation it demands have elements in them that produce beneficial side effects. In this case the side effects are the silver linings.
Today I realized that I did exactly the same thing when all that ordered my life disappeared at the time Mary Ann died. It isn’t just that I had to face that any delusions I had about having charge of the circumstances of my life were shattered, I had no control over my insides. When the waves of intense grief hit, I could not talk them or think them out of existence.
What I did do was construct a plan that had clear, identifiable goal. The goal itself was a small one. It was not to make the grief go away or to fix my insides or to change my circumstances. The goal was just to take a trip. The plans and preparations for the trip were all consuming. I have talked often in these posts about the side effects, the silver linings that appeared. The pain drove me to do it and in doing so provided a way to move through it. Silver linings have become visible.
The movie Silver Linings Playbook and my experience provides a potential template for anyone who is out of control, looking for some way to survive long enough to catch sight of some silver linings. The dark clouds don’t go away; they just develop cracks large enough for us to discover that there is more to be seen, more to be experienced. The dark clouds cease to have the power to block out all hope.
I suppose if I hadn’t been through it myself, I might have dismissed the message of the movie as too simplistic to be of any real value. I may have to go to the movies again sometime. Maybe there are some other discoveries to be made.