on pure love

Last weekend I had a bit of a movie kick. Really, it’s been all month-long. February tends to bring out the melancholy in me. I lost my dad over eight years ago, and the day of the year that I miss him the most is Valentine’s Day.                                                                                 

In my gloomy state I decided to rent a few of the movies that I couldn’t wait to watch on cable, and since I don’t have a Netflix account I hit up the Red Box. In the course of three nights I watched Crazy Stupid Love, 50/50, and Midnight in Paris. These movies have quite a bit in common, and perhaps even more that’s dissonant, but the overall theme that rang true for me, and which I was apparently looking for, was pure love.

Pure love is different from romantic love which was also present in all of these movies. Pure love, as I use the term, reflects the way we open our hearts to the people around us. It is my belief, and the way I live my life, that we are meant to open our hearts to each other. This may not be the first thing you think about when you think about the movie where Ryan Gosling’s abs look photo shopped, that cancer movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the one where Owen Wilson wanders his way into 1920s Paris. But it is what I think of when I reflect on them.

Crazy Stupid Love focuses on the unraveling life of Cal Weaver. The crux of this move is the love, perhaps the crazy, stupid love he feels for his family and the lengths he will go to in order to protect that family. The audience can also see the effects of his love in the actions undertaken by his children. Yes, there is a romantic love story here as well, several actually, but what stood out to me was the selflessness of the love Cal had for his family and the lengths he was willing to go for them. In 50/50 a similar dynamic is enacted, but in a very different arena.

When we meet Adam he is in a relationship that is already in decline, and by the end of the movie he is starting a new romantic relationship with Katherine, his former therapist-in-training.  But the most important arc in the story of Adam’s battle against cancer is perhaps that of Adam and Kyle his best friend, played by Seth Rogan with the insight which only having lived through a similar situation can provide. Kyle is loyal to Adam in ways that not many friends would be given the situation, and even though he doesn’t always show it, he loves Adam as if he was himself, and does what he can to protect him and care for him through the course of the cancer treatment. This is what true friendship based on a pure love for another looks like, even when it doesn’t always look pretty.

So how does Midnight in Paris line up with these other two? Midnight in Paris is the story of an American writer, Gil, disillusioned by the formulaic writing he has been producing for the movie industry and wants to write a novel, to create true art. It is his love affair with Paris, especially in the rain, and the mystic journey he takes back in time to his idea of the best time inParis’ history, the 1920s, that the audience witnesses the pure love he has for the artists of the day and the inspiration he draws from the exchanges he is allowed each night. Again, there is a romantic love arc, where Owen Wilson’s Gil falls head over heels for Marion Cotillard’s Adriana, but her infatuation with the grand epoch shows Gil that his own fascination with the roaring twenties and the ex-pat community cannot last, and that he must return to his own life, and go back to loving these artists from afar.

So what does it all mean? I don’t know. I know that depictions of pure love: love of family, the love of true friends, the love of art and culture and the desire to create are all great things and their value should not be overlooked. Especially in a world which is overly focused on romantic love.

a writer you say?

I have never thought of myself as a writer. Seriously. I have written a lot in my academic career, and should in fact be working on my thesis for my Master’s degree so that I can graduate in May. I know many of my friends in my program were absolutely petrified about writing the thesis, which must be at least 40-60 pages of original research. I was never concerned about the writing; I have always been concerned about the research. And that also feels silly. I’ve been writing in-depth and intense research papers for over a decade.

But even though I have always enjoyed the feeling of sitting down to write or type and the sort of bliss feeling that accompanies it, I have never thought to prescribe the term ‘writer’ to myself. I’m a student, a teacher, a friend, an elder sister, a reader,  a goofball, a history lover, a social liberal, a caffeine junkie, a semi-practicing Catholic, an aunt…

But never a writer, until now.

Approximately eight months ago I joined an incredibly informal writing/critiquing group with two friends from work. One of whom is absolutely committed to becoming a published writer and has many projects under way at any given time. The other has two bachelor degrees; one in English and one in Art. She has been writing as part of her profession and studies for nearly a decade and does partly define herself as such. Artist first, writer second. And then there was me. I honestly joined the group in order to spend more time with two ladies I quite enjoy, and partly because I thought it would provide the appropriate peer pressure to write the damned thesis (you can gather that has not happened).

Within a few weeks I was bringing original fiction to the table every two weeks when we met. Admittedly I only have forty or so pages written at the moment but this is the first time in over a decade that I have written for fun. For me.

I love it.

Since my conversion to blossoming writer I have also started commenting more frequently on the websites I browse, use my twitter feed more often, started reading more for fun, started this blog, and joined up with that crazy Cannonball Read 4.

So what does all of this mean? I don’t know. But I can’t stop thinking about something my Psychology teacher in High School told me just before I graduated. He told me that he always thought I’d be a writer. Perhaps a teacher, or a professor, certainly a lover of history, but definitely someone who chronicled and wrote.

So, here we are.

A Day in the Salt Mines

No, I do not actually work in a mine.

I work at a historic site, and I’m in education. It’s my job to figure out fun and engaging things for you to do when you visit. And that it what I am supposed work on at the moment.

Instead I’m typing. Because there isn’t a lot else I feel compelled to do at the moment.

My job requires a lot of creativity, and sometimes the creative juices either don’t flow at all, or flow in ‘the wrong’ direction. This is not to say that I haven’t been productive today, I have. I just wish I was more productive.

But I have a plan, and I know that’s the first most important step.

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off… They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.” – Pearl Buck