I was watching the TV series Damages the other day and something suddenly struck me. One of the baddies was obviously feeling guilty and decided to help one of the people he had wronged. That made me remember one of my favourite quotes from Doctor Who. He is talking to another baddie:
You let one of them go but that’s nothing new. Every now and then a little victim’s spared because she smiled, ’cause he’s got freckles. ‘Cause they begged. And that’s how you live with yourself. That’s how you slaughter millions. Because once in awhile—on a whim, if the wind’s in the right direction—you happen to be kind.
And isn’t this true for many, if not most, of us? We do the wrong thing all the time, knowingly do the wrong thing, but every now and then we muster up the strength to do what we believe is right in difficult circumstances – and that is how we live with ourselves. That is how we survive the knowledge that we are not always a good person. We remember the things we did right. We pat ourselves on the shoulder and say: See I am not all bad after all. And, as contradictory as this may sound; I think that is really important. To remember that we sometimes do have that strength. Because God does, too. Yes, he knows all our deeds, good or bad, but through his grace we are forgiven the bad ones. And we please him every time we get it right; every time we go beyond ourselves he jumps up and down with joy – and so should we. Of course we can’t be complacent about it but if we only focus on the bad things and those we got wrong – we’ll simply break. So I say: let’s use this very human feature for a good cause. Let’s use it to do more good deeds and less bad ones. Let’s use it as a carrot so we can forget the stick.
So, today, do something right, do something good, do something you wouldn’t normally do. and then tonight, when you go to sleep, remember it, remember the warm, fuzzy feeling of complete goodness and thank God for experiencing that grace. And then, tomorrow, do it again.
I was watching the film “City of Angles” the other day and beside the premise being a bit cooky and the love story a little soppy, there is something about this film that makes me sigh. For me it is the amazing way we are made to feel and see everyday experiences in a new light thanks to the long scenes where nothing much happens but the actors are reading/ smelling/ touching/ hearing or tasting something. The great soundtrack by Gabriel Yared compliments those beautifully. At several points during the film did I think: Wow!, sometimes because of the music, sometimes because of the story and sometimes because of what was said.
The music is the perfect mix of meaningful songs (that a musical amateur like me would otherwise never have heard of) and original composition, thoughtful and touching. I am listening to it right now. The story is a little soppy and the premise, well, let’s not get into that, but throughout the whole film, from the very beginning to the very end, the actors are showing us how it feels to them to experience many things. For example in one scene Nicolas Cage (Seth) asks Meg Ryan (Maggie), what a pear tastes like. She asks him whether he’s never tasted pear before and he replies that he doesn’t know what a pear tastes like for her. She goes on to eat the pear and describe its taste. It made me think about my everyday experiences and how special they really are and that I spent far too much time obsessing about the future and way too little time in the moment. When, in our hectic lives, do we ever take the time really enjoy a piece of fruit we are eating, or the sun shining in our face? I have seconds where I feel a little like that sometimes but I never enjoy them as much as I should because there are things I have to do and places I have to get to and I am in a hurry, often. Watching this film made me remember that there is more to life than running from one activity and place to another. I have decided to remember it more often and to linger the next time I have a moment like that.
Last but definitely not least, there is some amazing dialogue going on in this film. My favourite piece is the following, between a former angel-turned-human Nathaniel and the protagonist Seth:
Nathaniel Messinger: “Listen, kid: he [God] gave these bozos the greatest gift in the universe — you think he didn’t give it to us, too?”
Seth: “Which gift?”
Nathaniel Messinger: “Free will, brother. Free will.”
I had to stop the movie here because this struck me dumb. It is such a profound truth that we never remember it: We have free will and we use it every day. And it is an amazing gift from God. We really should appreciate it a lot more because without it we would be nothing. God loves us so much that he gave us the power to do whatever we want with our lives, he let’s us make our own mistakes because that is the only way we can learn. So, using a ridiculous story, this film manages to teach us something about ourselves and our normal everyday lives. I am impressed.