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I Watched A Terrible Movie Last Night

January 2, 2021

And it wasn’t 2020. It was actually 2049.

Part of us revels in talking into a remote, clicking on a link and, VOILA – control. Although a remote control, it is still a moment of control. We see what we want, when we want. If we have electricity. If it works. And it could still simply suck.

An incredible effort of computer graphics, 3D printing, real prop production made the visuals stunning. A cast from other hit movies was promising. Apparently the movie was derived from a book not a marketing company. Masterminded by George Clooney, for heaven’s sake. It had the compelling trailer, like they all do.

It was awful.

Ponderous, pretentious, badly written, with endlessly self absorbed acting.

But we had no choice. In this hangover from 2020 this is our lives for a while. I wrote my fourth piece this week, probably ponderous and pretentious and badly written, started reading my first novel in years, ate a wonderful meal, eschewed booze after some wonderful diversions last New Year’s nite, and the 102 minutes felt like a punishment.

You dared to invent control? No, you do not control. It just is. You just try.

During this waste of time, came a text from halfway around the world. A son, who once watched a great deal of football (after playing it quite well) was thrilled to see live humans doing it on his screen. After not seeing much, the images were exhilarating “the things I took for granted.”

As Joni said, you do not know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

One huge level of control we had has gone missing. Despite our inevitable compulsion to control, many have gotten sick. A friend was infected then laid out for weeks because his son reported, “no one wears a mask.” Including him one afternoon. Control or controlled?

That afternoon he had control. Then his father lost it for a month. I had control when I spoke into the remote last night. But the beauty of the humans my son watched at that same moment was not in the extreme control they exercised to get to a place to do what they loved – no, the beauty was in the lack of control of the moment.

In full view was success, failure, uncertainty, effort. It was life. It is what we do not have as much of this year. As we thought was our right.

We do have worldwide efforts at control. Lock-downs, closings, Laws, even, eventually, a vaccine. But this huge control effort has failed at the results of those who thought control was The Answer, because although we all want control, we really never have it.

We can make very lovely movies, but the words, music and acting can be awful. We can attempt control over a virus, but virtually every populated place amid other populated places is fully failing at that control, even those with the most intense attempts.

There is no greater effort humans devote to than “saving lives” – in all the ways “greatest” is measured – time, money, effort. And, well, we all die. No one gets out alive.

We fail at control because we can never have it. Because we did not make this place, ourselves, even the things in ourselves we love. No, we are coping with a place that has completely eliminated our ability to do more than try.

I will see a great good movie again. I saw two last week. Of course I knew they were great, because I had seen them before, I controlled that.

But the beauty of control or choreography simply pales in comparison to the raw and engaging devotions my son saw last night. Because there is no script. There is only the gift of life that we assume is owed.

Nothing is owed us. Everything was given to us. We do much with what we were given – or not. We have that control.

But we end up watching a great many bad movies.

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