coming attractions

Went to see Pirate Radio today all by my lonesome. Sad to report it wasn’t so great. I had high hopes thanks to “from the people who brought you Love Actually and Notting Hill” hype, as those are two of my favorite feel-good British movies ever.

I hadn’t seen a movie by myself in at least six months. I felt a little sheepish over it. But once I settled in with my kiddie combo I remembered I love it so much! (of course a Saturday morning is easier than, say, a Friday night…it was me and three dudes in the whole place.)

There are few feelings more contenting than the cool, dark silence of the theater just before the film begins, when the only sound (if you’re lucky, barring crying babies, texting teens and the like) is the click/whir of the projector above you.
I couldn’t help but smile.
It feels like *ah*
This is why you go to the movies (and something my brother inevitably says every time we see one): you can escape your life for a while. there’s something magical in that.

The most magical part of the whole experience was the trailer for Invictus. Brand new film for me, but I’m interested right away.

Take in this poem by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903):

Invictus (unconquerable)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

The emphasis is mine. Those are the two lines Morgan Freeman intones at the start and end of the Invictus trailer, and I found the poem on the Nobel Peace Prize site about Nelson Mandela.

Besides the shallower reasons—that beefy (and be-accented) Matt Damon is a new, different screen-object of interest, and Morgan Freeman is 99% guaranteed to deliver a heart-warmer (you know, Se7en doesn’t quite qualify)—this philosophy is what I need, with all of my heart and my frustrated potential, to latch onto.

I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.

What 26-year-old doesn’t need to hear such a benediction? (especially a quarter-life-crisis-of-faith, mental-stability-challenged, deep-thinking-and-feeling one like myself.)

In The Seeker’s Guide (more to come on this months-long read), Elizabeth Lesser talks about embracing duality, the two-sides-of-every-coin-ness of life. In this case, it means letting go of control and yet taking responsibility at the same time. (because I’m the captain of my soul, but I don’t control the sea. or other boats. or sharks. etc.)
It ain’t easy.

But it’s the thing that keeps me going in “the night that covers me”…that twist in my heart I’m feeling as I read Half The Sky, and every time I hear an author speak, that there’s something I can do for others that will give meaning to my life.
Meaning that escapes me in shopping malls or watching The Soup or being a local improv star (ha) or having a good-enough life (a good job, friends, a family that loves me, etc.) All those things are fine.
But they aren’t enough.

That’s the trouble with books and movies and ideas. They won’t leave me alone. And that’s why I love them so much.