As a sort of New Year's Resolution, my husband and I are trying to go to the movies together one night during the working week.
Last week our movie of choice was 127 Hours, a story which begins with incredible stupidity and ignorance but, over the course of the film, changes into a lesson of perseverance, humility and an excruciating hunger for life. We are taken on a (true story) journey through the eyes of a young man called Aron, played by James Franco, who, while on a solo expedition in Utah, finds himself trapped in an isolated canyon with his arm pinned against the wall by a fallen boulder. This crazy hunger to save his life grows over the 5 days we, the audience, spend with him. We watch his mood go from one of desperation and fear to delerium, defeat and finally to a furor of ambition which drives him to snap his forearm, dislocate his elbow and amputate the lower half of his arm with a dull army knife.
While watching Aron's transformation of moods and mindset, we also play witness to numerous "visits" from his mom, dad, sister, friends, old girlfriend and unborn son. The people who meant the most in his life and who, ultimately, give him an entirely new one. These are the people, not the things, that drove Aron to physically remove a part of his body, without the use of anesthesia, the expertise of doctors or the "convenience" of a sharp object.
If you've read any of my blog, I'm sure you can eventually tell that I continually try to find the relevance of an experience, message, opportunity or even a movie, within my own life.
It also got me thinking about my favourite book in the world and one I've read at least 6 times, called "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. The book chronicles the true story of a Jewish doctor during his time as an inmate in Auschwitz concentration camp, and describes his method of finding a reason to live through the tortures of daily life. According to the author, the book is meant to answer the question "How was everyday life in a concentration camp reflected in the mind of the average prisoner?"
The major take away for me after reading the book was Frankl's personal struggle as a prisoner and his motivation to live and ultimately survive camp...his wife. Not knowing if she had been murdered on Day 1 or was still alive and suffering the same punishments he was had no impact on his motivation to live. It was the mere thought of her- how he remembered her in his mind and in his heart- that kept him going, kept him fighting through the torturous "death walks,", the rampant disease and the mental anguish that was bestowed on the prisoners living in that hell on earth. He concludes that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living; that life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death.
Frankl's story has been a constant source of insight and inspiration for me. It sheds light on many problems, circumstances and opportunities that we, as human beings, naturally go through in the course of our own lives. Mostly, it provides a strong reminder of how lucky I am, how much I have to be thankful for, and forces me to reflect on whether I'm living this life to the fullest.
In this instance, I left the theatre thinking about what drives me. "If I was in Aron's position, what would I do?" or "Who would I think of?""How would I do things differently if I were given a 2nd chance?" I promised myself that I would call my mom every week when I said I would, that I would give my husband a hug every time he did something that bothered me rather than "nagging" him to fix it and that I'd pursue that entrepreneurial idea that will make us millions... first thing tomorrow morning!
But while these are genuinely amazing sources of "wake up calls," how long do they stay with us? How long should they stay with us? Do we need to think of them as daily reminders, or is there actually a genuine nature about us that drives us to do the good or right thing?
I think the answer to those questions are completely subjective. Personally, what they have done for me is to create an awareness of the things that I may otherwise take for granted in daily life. These are the things that continually stimulate and satisfy my appetite for living. The birds chirping outside my window in the morning, the vivid green of the grass in London (a positive result of the many rainy days!), a "see you later" kiss from my husband, the mere fact that I can wake up, put my feet on the ground and walk by myself, without any one person or machine to help me. That I can speak with freedom and confidence, that I am loved and that I love the people who surround me. These are my daily reminders. They are why I fall in love with life each and every day...
..although a little reminder every now and then never hurts.