Monday, 8 June 2015

"The Bridges of Madison County"


Photo credit: screen shot of a still from the film in the Photo Gallery on IMDb

Starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood
Based on novel by Robert James Waller


This film about a married mother's affair has come into my life via extended family and I have no idea how I feel about it. There's something melancholy and unsettling about it but, at the same time, words like "uplifting" and "redemptive" don't seem out of place either. It's complex. Like life. I think I react strongly to its themes because seeing someone lost inside their own life scares me: I don't ever want to be in that position. And I guess, from that fear, part of me judges Meryl Streep's character, Francesca, for ending up in that state.

Not long after seeing this film for the second time, I had a conversation with someone who essentially shares a similar world-view to me but phrases things in language that makes me uncomfortable. Her expression of things close to my heart has less nuances and more certainties. As she talked about her views, I could feel myself growing increasingly defensive. Hostile even. And I'm so sorry for it. Because I was judging her too.

It is easy to judge. Too easy. And labels can feel handy and necessary when the alternative is having to actually grapple with how little we really know of other people, and even ourselves. But I think this film and the aftermath of watching it makes me re-realise that I don't want to waste my energy being critical of other people.

I would love to be a voice of insight and challenge, someone capable of calling out the best in others before they recognise it in themselves. But more importantly, I also want to know how to mind my own business and take care of my own life. That's the task I'm really held accountable for: the small but essential business of being me.

So I want to live and let live.

Because I think if I can really live - if I can get into the guts of my own life, mining it for all it's worth, if I can cherish people and experiences and be generous with my kindness and gifts - that will surely turn out well for all of us. That will surely point to something special and Someone more worthy of our attention than the details that seemingly divide us.

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