Yet Another Movie

Because I so rarely had gone to the movies in my former working life (subject for another post) I find myself really loving going now. I am choosy, a little. I don’t care for most comedies, fantasies or armageddon movies. I tend to like thrillers and dark emo sorts of movies. I don’t mind shoot-em-up movies if they are fundamentally entertaining. And at this time of my life I definitely do not like romance/chick flicks for the most part. So now you know what I mostly don’t like.

I recently went to see The Mule with Clint Eastwood and Diane Wiest, among others. The people I went with found it slow, lacking movement and didn’t like it much. I don’t mind slow if it is about developing the story or the character which I thought in this case it was. I thought the movie was brilliant but extremely sad and depressing. You knew from the moment it started that it would not end well and it did not, although there was a kind of heroic undertone to the tragic ending.

The movie is, I presume loosely, based on the story of an actual World War II veteran to whom this happened which makes the narrative in some ways sadder but more convincing. Clint Eastwood as an old man was utterly convincing, he is an old man. He retained just enough of his tough guy loner persona to be interesting and not just old. It was sad nevertheless.

He reminded me of my father, a creative smart guy who couldn’t sustain family relationships with wife or children and as a result ended up alone and a bit desperate. His need for social accolades parallels my father’s needs very much. It made me think about several generations of veterans who came home and were unable to talk about what they had seen. Perhaps the need to keep that silence contributed to their intimate isolation. In the movie, very desperate, falling into what he falls into almost by accident but very much as a result of his isolation from family.

I thought it was very much worth seeing but I also left with a sense of real sadness for both the state of the elderly in this country and for the failure of relationship. In the very end it is poignant, sad, illuminating and truthful while being a good and resonant story of our time. See it but don’t expect to leave “entertained” in the usual sense of the word. It did capture my full attention, and you will be thinking about it as you walk out.

Things I Want My Son To Know #21 ~ Love With All Your Might

I didn’t know it at the time, but my parents were my first loves. As I get older I realize how much I love them, how much I have taken their presence in my life for granted. In facing the proximity of loss, I understand how much I will be losing.

I have come to love my friends. Learn this soon and remember it. Hold your friends close, cherish them, stay in touch with them and don’t let them go. Your friends will tell you the truth even if you don’t like it, your friends will bail you out, your friends will cover your butt and keep you company when you need it. You will tell your friends things you may not tell your wife, and that’s ok. Love your friends back.

When I was young I didn’t know anything about faith. Now I do. Having faith is about loving the God of your own understanding; believing that you are not alone. Love God with all your might by striving for great faith; with it life is much easier. You can talk to God when you can’t tell things to your friends or your wife. Treat this relationship with the same love you give to all your relationships.

And then I learned about perfect love, the day you were born. You will be stunned by how much you love your children. You will think you have never loved so much when you meet the person you decide to marry and you will be floored to discover the extent to which that love pales in the reflection of how you feel about your children. You will never understand how much we love you until you have children of your own. Love your children with all your might, and tell them often how much you love them.

When you forget about unconditional love, remember your pets. Your cats and dogs love you unconditionally, asking only in return that you do what they can’t do for themselves. you forget to feed them, they still love you. You accidentally lock them in a closet, they still love you. You step on a tail, its forgetten in seconds. Take a leaf out of their book and remember to love the people you love without question and without expectation.

And then there were all those “first” loves. Even having had two prior husbands, I don’t really remember being “in love”, but every one felt wonderful at the time. And I have learned from every relationship I have ever been in. No matter how much the end of a relationship hurts, no matter how afraid you are of failing, or having it end, you have to love with all your might. If you don’t you will miss knowing how wonderful it is to be in love, you will miss the feeling of that first kiss, and you may miss finding the one person you were meant to be with. You know your dad and I have had our ups and downs, but I know that he is my “meant to be”. Even when I want to kill him, I can’t imagine my life without him. You will never know how that feels if you don’t love with all your might.

Love is risky; all kinds of love. Our prayerbook says that “it is a terrible thing to love what death can touch” and that is true indeed. When you open your heart, it can get hurt. But you have to love with all your might, you have to keep your heart open, otherwise how will all those people find their way in?

Things I Want My Son To Know # 17 ~ Build Yourself A Family

Ok, you may have noticed that our house has always been full of people. There are lots of reasons for this, some complicated, some not. You may also have noticed that we are a small family. Something you may not think about is that we are older than most parents of eighteen year olds. Unfortunately, there will come a time when we will be gone and you will probably be much younger than many when they lose their parents. This is not morbid, it is just a fact. Hopefully you will find a wonderful life partner that makes you happy. I dearly hope you will have children, you will be a wonderful father. That’s where your family will begin.

Make sure you cherish your relationship with your cousin Jax, you are close in age and you are the only ones. And your uncle Bev ~ with any luck he will be around a lot longer than we will. You have two little cousins that will need to know you; don’t forget them.

But in addition to those few family members that you will have, you must fill your life with people that make you happy, inspire you, challenge you to think, tell you the truth and are just plain available. Remember that none of us are perfect; if you strive to have perfect friends you will have none. But different people will fill different needs for you throughout your life.

Your partner will not fill all your needs and that’s ok. Your very best friends are the ones that will tell you when you are being an ass; and you are willing to listen. Some friends will be the best for lively conversation and challenging thought, some friends will just make you laugh and some will be there when things go to hell.

Build yourself a family, fill your life with people who love you and who you love back. Don’t waste time on high-maintenance people, they are not really friends and life is too short. Find family in your Temple community, at least you know you will fit in. Just build yourself a family however you can.

Things Your Father Wants You To Know #1 ~ Get An Education

Your father isn’t a writer, and he isn’t great at words, especially when it comes to his feelings. But he cares about your future more than you can possibly know. It is the great tragedy of his life that he did not get a post-secondary education. He is a very smart guy, and he has spent his life learning things, but many people won’t give him a second look because he doesn’t have a college degree. One of the most important things in his life is that you don’t screw up your chance at education, college and post college, whatever you need to have a better life.

Like your immigrant great grandparents who worked liked dogs to provide for their children’s education (an extremely Jewish tradition), your father would do anything to ensure that you get yours. Your father believes, and wants you to understand, that education is the key to a certain kind of life. It is not just the key to financial or work success, it is the key to a certain type of enjoyment of life. Reading, listening to the opinions of experts, researching things you are interested in, generally the acquisition of knowledge, makes life interesting, productive and fulfilling.

This year of all years, you need to step up, do what you need to do to make it happen. Your father and I can only give you moral support, you need to earn your college education, through having the grades for Bright Futures money, through working for what you want your future to be and through just plain working. There have been many opportunities not offerred and dreams unrealized for your father. It is the dream of all parents that their children have more and do better. This is your father’s dream and one he hopes you share. Your father recognizes that it is very difficult for youth to learn from their elders experiences; often needing to make their own mistakes. Some experiences do not need to be repeated.

Things I Want My Son To Know #2 ~ Don’t Be Afraid

Don’t be afraid. That’s it in a nutshell. If I had to choose one thing that I think is most important it is this… don’t be afraid. Fear informs all our bad decisions, all our non-decisions, it paralyzes us. It is not good to get hurt, but it is worse to never try. Don’t be afraid to love, you never know when you are going to find your one true love. Don’t be afraid to try new things, you never know when you will find your passion and your success. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud, you never know when you will need those few more minutes of life (laughter adds minutes to your life they say), or when it might be your last good laugh. Don’t be afraid to tell your loved ones that they are loved, it might be the last time you see them. Don’t be afraid to trust, even when people abuse your trust it is better than living in cynicism and distrust. Don’t be afraid to touch people, hugs make a lot of stuff better. Don’t be afraid to talk to God, that way you’ll know you are never alone. Don’t be afraid to sing out loud with your head out the window and the wind in your face. Like any mom, I don’t want my son to take crazy unnecessary risks. I am afraid for him all the time and to counteract that fear I work on faith that he will be okay. But I want him to take risks, life is about risks. If you risk nothing, you get nothing; financially, spiritually and emotionally. Now that I’m old I am a little afraid of motorcycles (I have seen a lot of friends pretty broken up), but I wouldn’t trade knowing what its like to ride a beach road on a summer night on an old Harley. I know now that too much loud rock and roll can cause hearing loss, but I wouldn’t trade long nights of the best rock and roll in the world. I don’t want high cholesterol or diabetes (one I have and one I don’t) but I won’t trade the taste of a fresh blueberry pie or a profiterole. We try to protect our children from all the things we are now afraid of, but in my heart of hearts I know he has to take some risks, and I want him to take others, in spite of my better judgement. I want him to feel joy and love and laughter and a little danger, and not be afraid, and be safe.