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Friday, February 17, 2006

Elizabethtown, Part 3

We're at the end of the Elizabethtown posts—at least for now. Here are a couple of random quotes from the movie that I'm not going to spend a lot of time on, but I think they're worth noting:

"Sadness is easier because it's surrender. I say, make time to dance alone with one hand waving free." –Claire

"Trust me. Everybody's less mysterious than they think they are." –Claire, at the beginning of her all night phone call with Drew.

Here's the quote I want to talk about. It comes in the middle of "the call" between Claire and Drew. Without offering much context, Claire said this: "I think I've been asleep most of my life." I suspect that she feels this way because she's been operating as what she calls a "substitute person" for a long time. Her boyfriend is married to his career and she seems to be on auto-pilot when she meets Drew.

Auto-pilot isn't always a bad thing. It can get a person from Point A to Point B in life without much thought or emotion. But life often happens during mundane circumstances, and if a person sleeps through too many of them, he or she will eventually wake up and wonder what's happened to all the time that has passed.

I think people go into auto-pilot for different reasons, but the main one is to avoid even the possibility of pain. Many years ago, I took a chance with a woman who interested me, and she responded affirmatively. Prior to that, I'd been on auto-pilot after enduring one failed attempt at a relationship after another. So, taking a chance for me at the time was a pretty big deal. And it was even nicer to see that once in a while it pays to take a chance.

One night, as I walked through a nightclub hand in hand with this woman, I heard a guy say, "What is she doing with that fat ass?" I allowed that one voice to push me back into auto-pilot. Why pursue? Why feel? Why stay awake when people are going to make such remarks and validate my suspicion that I really was out of my league?

Sleeping is much easier, but it's hardly fulfilling. Sleeping is about existing from one day to the next. Living is about experiencing each moment as it was intended—sometimes in heartache and sometimes in triumph, and often, somewhere in between. But without the highs and without the lows, the middles don't mean nearly as much.


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