Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Wonder of Capra's "Wonderful Life"

Hope the holidays are treating you well, dear reader.

This darn cold knocked me for a loop, and I spent at least a week feeling all clogged up and useless. Fortunately, I'm better now. But then, of course, since it's the end of the school year, I've got lots of papers to grade. Bleah!

But good stuff has been happening too. My family has been watching a lot of Christmas movies, including my personal favorite: It's a Wonderful Life.  So many awesome moments in that film. It might be the best screenplay of all time.



And how can you not love this guy's face???

Like a lot of people, I need this movie to remind me of how grateful I should be for everything and everyone in my life. Sometimes we feel stuck, just like George Bailey. We feel like we aren't supposed to be where we are, and that makes us angry. We want to blame everybody else for our problems. We want to rage and howl at the universe. Just like this guy:


If we roll around in that anger long enough, we start to hate other people, and (just as bad if not worse) we start to hate ourselves. That's when we might become this guy: 


And we don't want to end up like mean Mr. Potter, do we? Sure, in the alternate universe he does create Pottersville, a thriving artistic community with lots of dance halls and jazz musicians, but aside from that vibrant metropolis, what else does he have? Nothing. No one. He's nothing but a "scurvy little spider," and he knows it. So, it might be tempting to get mad and shake our dumb Uncle Billy like a rag doll... 


But it's not going to solve anything. So... What do we do?



We get humble and we get sad. But not just, oh I am going to throw a pity-party kind of sadness... I'm talking about end-of-your-rope, Let-go-let-God sadness. The kind of sadness that says, "Hey Universe, I apologize for raging and howling I did earlier. I now realize that I'm a little speck "in the whole vast configuration of things." And that's probably when we ask for help. I'm not religious in the traditional sense but I'm a spiritual, willfully foolish, and Romantic (with a capital R) in many ways, and sometimes I believe that when we get to our lowest point we open ourselves up to genuinely ask for help from the universe (or God or society or whatever you believe in). 

And you know what? Sometimes we are heard... By the universe...




Or perhaps by our guardian angel... 


But we don't always need divine intervention or a shift in the space-time continuum in order to be saved... Sometimes we are spiritually rescued by... our family... 


... and our friends...



...or by a good book... 


...or a loyal squirrel... 


It's a Wonderful Life has been revitalizing of our sense of humanity for over 70 years. Even the film itself is a reflection of George Bailey's struggles. When it was first released in 1946 it was a box office disappointment, and it wasn't until its annual television broadcast around Christmas time that we began to truly (and communally) cherish this American classic. And thank goodness, because every time I watch the story of George Bailey I take away a new lesson that sets the tone for the New Year. 

This year, my lesson goes against the old adage "Dance like no one is watching." Instead, I am going to take a cue from George Bailey and... 


I'm gonna dance everybody's watching me skip to the edge of a freakin' swimming pool!

Happy holidays, everybody!  Don't be afraid to jump in! 





   













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