I finished watching Nine Perfect Strangers the other night on Netflix. There were good and bad aspects. I don't think hallucinogens are the way to psychological healing or a way to deal with unresolved grief, nor do I like the idea that the show may support that. On the other hand, the psychological drama was good, which was a result of the writing.
I digress. What I want to talk about is one of the last shots of the last episode, where Nicole Kidman drives off with the smiling ghost of her daughter. It's a beautiful day, they're in a convertible, driving down a coastal highway - probably somewhere along the US west coast. Nicole's character has finally come to terms with her grief. As they drive away, she and her daughter laugh and raise their hands to a perfect, blue sky.
What struck me about this shot was... once, I was this happy, this carefree. I resented nothing and no-one, I held no grudges, I feared nothing. Once I was 18, and it was a beautiful time, and the present moment was that perfect, and the future seemed perfect, too.
Where the hell had that happy 18-year old gone?
I know where she went. She grew up. She had kids. She had a marriage that struggled for years, and then finally made peace with itself (thank God). She had friends who lived their own lives, moved away, and lost touch. Others turned on her because of shared issues. For those friends who didn't support or who betrayed, she held grudges against them for a long, long time. She revisits those grudges, occasionally. There's a certain satisfaction in that, which is hard to explain. (I'm working on getting over it.)There were a few professional failures, but luckily, there were successes that outweighed them. She learned that tenacity and stubbornness will get you where you need to go, and a second 'thank God' for those few supportive folks who helped her along the way.
There were deaths. Of old friends. Of parents. The death of her mother made her face her own mortality, maybe for the first time. Despite being a spiritual person, death was, and is, still hard to accept. The passing of her dogs broke her heart.
When COVID hit, she became paranoid for a time, and she's still cautious about it - probably more so than most. She still wears masks. Like many people, the isolation wasn't the best either, particularly as it gave her the time to dwell on past losses, hurts, and betrayals, not a great habit as she was already obsessive about many things. On the plus side, that same obsessiveness and perfectionism helped her Get Things Done.
God, what a load to carry. I didn't realize how weighted down I was.
I don't suppose I'll ever be as carefree as I was at 18, but I'd like to head there. I think I've started. I'm not so driven anymore, and I'm not so bitter. I find if I can't out-and-out forgive, I can at least 'forget about it'. I can also look at why I choose to hang onto my resentments. Do I think they empower me? Why do I need to feel empowered? Again - forget about it. As for the deaths, better to focus on life.
I don't think I'm so different from many of us. The years can weigh heavily. All of it leads to a question. Was there a time when you felt carefree and completely happy? What was your moment, when the world seemed perfect, and sunny, and you were content to be exactly where you were? Have you found your moment again? If you haven't yet, do you think you will? I have hope for the both of us.
I suspect I have too much history for me to re-live that carefree time exactly, but maybe I can find a good alternative. I suspect it will take some mindfulness to get there. My moments will be simple. More time in the garden, more time to play with my grandsons. More walks enjoying the great outdoors. More time talking to the people I care about, who I know care about me. I wish there were more of those. I'd like to make some time to include a few new ones. Maybe I'll get another dog, although I'm not sure I can live with the eventual heartbreak. The thing is - to live in the now. And then, maybe plan a bit for the future. There's travel.
Maybe all I need is to rent a convertible and to head out onto a coastal highway, to rediscover 18-year old me. That joy, that peace, that perfect moment. If there's a heaven, for me it would be that. I pray I find it, that I'll get there.
Happy travels to us all. - Susan.