Monday, January 14, 2008

All Aboard Mister C's Wild Ride...

OK, so yesterday, I was watching part of a movie I have liked since I originally saw it in 1995, Boys on the Side. In case you've never seen it, it stars Whoopi Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker, Drew Barrymore & a hunky Matthew McConaughey.

If you've never seen it, the Internet Movie Database provides this short but accurate description:

Jane [Whoopi Goldberg] is a night club singer, out of work. Robin [Mary-Louise Parker] is a quirky real estate agent looking for a ride-share to accompany her to
California. Her advertisement is answered by Jane, who at first was uncertain about her. A stop in Pittsburgh picks up a third, Holly [Drew Barrymore], escaping a violent and drug-dealing partner. Girls on the road, reaching understanding, respect, and care for each other. But this trio is different - Jane a lesbian, Robin suffering with AIDS, Holly running from her past, seeking one-night stands and a good man.

I hadn't seen Boys on the Side in a while & I had forgotten how both humorous & sad this movie is (darn those drama-dies)!

I hope I don't spoil anything for anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet, but if you've had a dozen or so years to watch it and haven't yet, I doubt this post will make you want to add it to your Blockbuster or Netflix queue!

Anyway, in typical road-trip-film-style, the 3 very disparate women wind up becoming more than friends, they become family & through their "zany adventures," they learn that what they thought they were looking for in their lives wasn't really what they needed at all.

I submit that, sometimes our everyday lives get us all sidetracked. I think, as the old saying goes, in our get-it-in-30-minutes-or-less-or-it's-free, instant-credit-approval, when-it-absolutely-positively-has-to-be-there-overnight, lose-10-pounds-in-2-days world, we can't help but miss the forest for the trees. Like Don Quixote, we get an idea in our heads about the giants we must slay to reach our life's goals or to re-live past glories & we don't let anything (even reality) get in our way. Our single-minded pursuit & lack of at least periodic serious self-reflection has us inevitably tilting at windmills. Like Quixote, sometimes the giants we think we see really aren't what they seem at all. Just a thought.

Anyway, while watching the movie I realized that what Jane & Robin & Holly were experiencing, all of us experience, if we ever allow ourselves to have people we love & who love us in our lives. Not that we are all looking for either a golden life in the
Golden State, or a gig in a nightclub or the perfect man (or woman), but their trip serves as a metaphor for life, I believe. As I sat there & watched Robin get sicker & become more helpless, I thought to myself, "This is how it will end for everyone..." & that made me think of the Flaming Lips song, Do You Realize.

I know it may sound silly, but I first heard this song in a TV commercial for a car company (can't remember which one right now), but it has a wonderful tune & shortly after I first heard it, I had to get the lyrics to it & listen to the whole song.

Watching Boys on the Side & thinking about how ever allowing even one person into your life & into your heart will always mean, at one point or another, saying goodbye reminded me of the first two stanzas of the song, Do You Realize. In particular these words:

Do You Realize - that you have the most beautiful face?
Do You Realize - we're floating in space?
Do You Realize - that happiness makes you cry?
Do You Realize - that everyone you know someday will die?

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes,
Let them know

You realize that life goes fast,
It's hard to make the good things last,
You realize the sun doesn't go down,
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

When I first read those words, I thought, "How depressing!" for such a beautiful-sounding song! The song was saying that "everyone you know someday will die"! I mean, as a mortal being, I knew that was so, but I didn't necessarily want to think about it, or sing a song about it!

Then I re-read the second stanza which tells us to "let them know/You realize that life goes fast". To me it all really means that we can't let our lives become a place to wait til it's all done. It means that we must embrace our impermanence & use the knowledge of our limited time here to make the most of whatever time we do have, and to take a leap of faith now and again & allow entrance into our hearts to people that we know we will have to let go of one day. Truth is, if you ever allow yourself to love someone else, it means, by necessity, the promise of a future broken heart. You can't really love someone & watch them leave you without enduring what seems, at least for a time, inconsolable pain. I think, deep inside, we all know that there is just no way around it.

Having said that, I don't want anyone who reads this to take from what I have written a belief that I constantly think about how horribly it will all end for each of us. Back when I was in the closet & when I hid my heart & my life from the light of day, I thought regularly that, if I had to "live" this way, at least I wouldn't have the pain of trying to live my life without a love my heart had grown used to. At least I had no good-byes to endure. I did & said a lot of stuff back then that I thought would help me through my existence in hiding, but none of it really worked, of course. I didn't have to worry about the pain of losing someone I loved or of having someone who loved me see me off, but I did have to somehow endure the emptiness until it was time for me to die alone. What a trade-off.

That's what this song reminded me of yesterday. It's true "that everyone you know someday will die," but, if you are fortunate enough to have people in your life who care about you & who love you, it's not about the time it all will end; it's about the time before that. It's about those things & those people with which you decorate your life before the last breath is drawn. It's about the joy & the happiness & the companionship you get to share while you are here.

If it's true that all we mortals must "give up the ghost" in the end & if we can do nothing to stop it from happening, then as Gandalf the White said in Lord of the Rings, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." We can decide to avoid the inevitable pain that comes with having to let go of the hand of those who have helped make our lives worth living, or we can sit by & simply regret a loveless & joyless life knowing that we have no one to even say good-bye to.

No matter what you " do with the time that is given" you, there will be sadness & there will be pain once it's all done, but I guess it's all in how you arrive at it. Either live your life aloof & separated by the wall you build around your heart & live the pain everyday, or allow someone (or even a few someones) to become important to you & allow them to care about you & you for them. Bravely give them the keys to the kingdom of your heart. Acknowledge "that life goes fast" and that "it's hard to make the good things last," and then work as hard as you can to make those "good things" last as long as possible. If you know it's going to hurt in the end, at least make sure you & the ones you love have some nice, warm memories tucked into your inevitable broken heart to help keep you company.


Mr. Fabulous said...

This is a beautiful post, Clarence. I read it three times. Thank you for writing it.

Miss Britt said...

I love that movie. I actually own the VHS copy. I swear I thought I was the only person who had actually seen it.

You know, it's not just death that changes relationships. Sometimes life changes, people change, and it's hard to let go.

When I left Iowa at Christmas I was bawling, everyone was crying, and as my mom hugged me good bye she whispered in my ear "you are so lucky that you have so much love that it hurts this badly to say good bye."

Garth Brooks' The Dance talks about this too. "I'm glad I didn't know the way it all would end, or I might have missed The Dance."

Mr. C said...

Mr. F: I am glad this post meant something to you. This particular subject is something I do think about every now & then, mostly because I lived over 30 years of my life without someone to help fill my life with memories. I have that awesome someone now & I guess I may be more thankful than your average Joe only because I remember all too clearly from whence I came. I guess the only thing sadder than the thought of leaving someone you love is leaving no one.

Thank you, as usual, for your kind words, Brad! :-)

Mr. C said...

Ms. B: Boys on the Side is one of those films that really impacted me & really stuck with me & became part of my subconscious so much so that I never gave it a second thought. I guess I need a reminder every once in a while!

As for Garth Brooks, I SO LOVE THAT MAN, and I mean that in a humanitarian AND A GAY WAY!!! Even my husband, Gene, doesn't care for country music & he likes Garth!! Who can blame him!

Anyway, his songs, "The Dance" & "We Shall Be Free" are two of my most favorite songs EVER because of the message they impart. I guess I am just a sucker for message songs!!

Your mom was right, too, Britt! The awesome thing about love is that it's portable & it travels well!! Once you have it, you can take it wherever you go!!

As I said in this post, I firmly believe that, in the fertile soil of a life well-lived is the potential to reap a loving harvest of life-long memories!

~Deb said...

I literally can't comment on this. You've said everything so perfectly - yet there's a bitter truth about it. The end. Or is it the beginning? I'm in a challenging phase in my life that constantly tugs at my heart and soul. This post touched me.

Thank you for sharing yourself so openly.

God bless.

Ben said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing with me, Mister C.

That movie sounds entertaining.