(This post was mostly taken from a rare journal entry of mine back in August 26, 2003. It was just returned to my thoughts by this interview with Eugene Peterson.)
It seems to me that the masses of the American public, myself included, desire to live their lives in the magical moments of a movie scene. By this I mean that by our own creation of picturesque perfection and scripted scenes of everything from bliss to torture within films, our own hearts have learned to burn for the extreme experience and, at some mostly-ignored level, to scoff at the mundane day-to-day life that we generally exist in.
The romantic notions of an ideal moment: the memory recalled when you walk past a girl in a department store wearing the exact scent of your first love — your high school crush — and the lump that subsequently catches in your throat for a split second. Or a certain place that flashes an image onto your retinas and instantaneously pushes back through time into your childhood and the intense melancholy of a middle school memory. Or a line in a song… it was that very song you always danced to in his bedroom late at night, after his parents went to bed.
It’s those moments that make us feel something and remember somewhere, and what we remember about that place always seems to feel just a little more right — a little more like home, and a little more pleasant — than whatever it is we’re currently experiencing. And it feels like a movie, because for whatever reason, we remember it as being perfect.
Oftentimes, my life seems to be made up of endless droning moments of monotony spiked with occasional glimpses of something better. But these memories are never that; they are a kind of a romanticized version of my actual life, usually told with some phenomenal mental cinematography and soundtrack.
I wonder if it has to be that way. I wonder if, for some reason, human beings are indeed cursed by a need to be incessantly miserable, to not accept a reality that would be just a little more fulfilling. Sometimes I think we create our very own desert of the real, and we revel in our lonely, collective misery.
Also, are these magical perceptions contingent upon limited exposure? If I didn’t have the mundane, would I appreciate the magic?
For example, I am totally enamored with the magic of New York City (a direct result of film, as I’ve only been there twice), especially in the winter with light snow falling and tall buildings jetting skyward on all sides. I can hardly even imagine anything more romantic. But if I lived in my very own dingy Manhattan apartment, would the city’s movie mystique intrigue me so much? I’m not so sure it would.
Sometimes I think that when I’m walking down the street it sure would be a lot more meaningful if I could get some different camera angles and a good soundtrack playing in the background. Maybe one of those 360 degree sweeps around my oh-so-pensive facial expression and the way my brows are furrowed just-so, and a soft fade in of Josh Radin’s song “Closer.” Yes, that would almost be perfect… just perfect.
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