I rarely start writing without a firm grasp of what I intend to say and where it’s going to go. I’m just going to have to wing it and hope that something good comes from this.
I’ve been thinking a lot about films this week, working through the confusion about my lack of passion for them. In an attempt to recapture what I had lost, I turned to one of my favorite films of all time, Groundhog Day. I watched it all the way through, and then I watched it again. I love the feeling I get when I watch that that movie because it takes me on a rollercoaster of emotions. I relate so much to Phil Connors. I was incredibly self-absorbed as a child and a young adult, even though I deluded myself into believing I was kind and honorable. I was never the one at fault. Everything bad that happened to me was the fault of other people, such as bullies.
It was during my first time living on my own away from my parents that I started to realize I was a jerk. It was gut-wrenching to be told that I wasn’t being funny, I was being rude. I wasn’t being principled, I was being annoying. I wasn’t a victim, I was seeking attention. Just about everything I had used to preserve my self-esteem was stripped away bit by bit until I was left with the question: Who am I? Am I bad person? Am I hopeless?
While I was attending college and living hundreds of miles from where I grew up, I hit rock bottom. I had no answers to basic questions about how to be kind and thoughtful. I started asking the strangers and acquaintances I shared an apartment complex with, “What is a friend?” I had no idea how to define it, but I knew I wanted to be one. I got plenty of puzzled looks because it was such an odd question, and I got a variety of answers that didn’t really help me get to the core of what it takes to be a true friend. I had never had many friends, either through thoughtlessness or neglect on my part.
This brings me to my Groundhog Day moment. Phil has tried manipulating other people to get his way. He’s tried punching people who annoy him and doing all sorts of things to satisfy his selfish feelings. He’s even tried killing himself many times out of despair. None of it has given him anything other than a sense of his own worthlessness and detestable nature. He doesn’t like himself. This is his rock-bottom moment, spread across two scenes.
I had a similar experience. At college, I had gone on a few dates with a girl I really liked. She had so many qualities I admired, and I felt at ease whenever I was with her. After one date that I thought had gone great, she called me the next morning and told me that I was not right for her and that I should never let it into my mind that we would ever be anything more than friends. But we had previously scheduled to go on a hike together and she was still willing to go through with it, so I went there bereft of hope. All of the frustration of not knowing how to be a friend or how to talk normally or be kind led me to drop the act altogether. As we walked together, I figuratively threw up my hands and spoke frankly to her. I told her why I was the way I was in detail, not caring what she would think and fully expecting her never to want to speak with me again. She later told me that it was on that hike that she fell in love with me.
I thought for sure I was wrong for her, and I didn’t deserve someone as good as her. But I wanted to be better. That was a turning point for both of us. She suddenly saw me in a new light, and I figured out that I did have some good qualities hidden beneath the surface and I knew what it was I needed to do to be happy. I didn’t want to be a better man to deserve her; I wanted to be the type of man who could confidently know I was worth wanting to be with. That type of man is a true friend. I looked for the good in others, complimenting them whenever I saw them doing something good. I cultivated kindness until it become second-nature. And a few years after that hike, I married that girl who told me such a thing would never be possible.
I guess what I’m trying to say with this is that I have at least partially figured out what it was that was killing my passion for films. Immediately after watching Groundhog Day, I wanted to watch it again because it reminded me of who I used to be and who I aspire to be. I want to watch films that do more than give me a temporary thrill. I want to enjoy ones that inspire me to be more than I currently am. I’m going to seek out films that give me something special and avoid ones that leave me feeling hollow. I’ll chase this feeling I rekindled with Groundhog Day and hopefully have good results to relate in the coming weeks. Thank you for sticking with me through this weird time. Good things are coming.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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