One can’t truly connect with another until he truly knows himself. And boy are there times when I feel like I don’t know myself very well…or, more accurately, that within me there is no one yet of substance worth getting to know. This is no self-esteem issue, but more of a realization that—to focus on one crucial aspect of identity—I haven’t found a passion or a collection of passions that animate my life.
Sure, I have my likes and preferences and interests, but is that enough? Is my essence as a person reducible to or captured by those alone? What do I stand for? What values and emotions underlie my give-and-take with the world? What excites me so much that I can talk about it for hours?
In some sense I think college and education are the search for a passion. Maybe that’s why I currently see my future clearly delineated by the educational pathways available to me: it’s a search for passion(s), for a cause to throw my vitality behind. I guess I’m not the only one on this sort of journey, but that said, I still feel I possess a less unified concept of self than others my age. Maybe that’s just shorthand for saying I feel like I am not making as many connections as other people—which could say a lot of positive things about me and my maturity? Or not.
Perhaps I should blame my incapacity to connect on something other than not knowing what fuels my fire, but I do think knowing yourself is key to offering yourself up to others. Perhaps all that remains or all that matters is just me learning to maintain the few and cherished connections I’ve made up to this point. Easier said than done, especially in this weird tech age that we grew up in.
"I guess when you’re young, you just believe there’ll be many people with whom you’ll connect with. Later in life, you realize it only happens a few times."
— Celine, Before Sunset
Before Sunset is the second movie in the Jessie-Celine romance trilogy by Richard Linklater. I’ve been wanting to watch this trilogy for a long while, and my girlfriend got me to do so because she wants to see the third movie Before Midnight which is out in theaters now.
For anyone out there who doesn’t know, the three movies, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, are dialogue-based films set in European cities. Two people walking and talking over the course of a day or a late afternoon. A simple formula, really. The rich, classic environment just fades away and you’re left with pedestrian philosophy and two people falling in love.
One thing I enjoyed about Before Sunrise and Before Sunset is that they accomplish effortlessly what few movies have been able to: they reveal what love or a true person-to-person connection looks like in our everyday, modern world. When other (romance) films will take you back a couple decades or set up some unlikely, idealized situation, Before Sunset brings the emotion to us, to our reality. The result is much more believable and human. Two people laughing in a cafe, two people cruising down the river in a boat, or a woman playing a man a song she wrote. I mean, that’s the real mystery people want “solved”…21st century urban, metropolitan love. Sure a first class damsel and a third class drifter can have a spark on an unsinkable ship—cough, Titanic, cough—but, we ask, what does love look like on the street during the workweek. I think Before Sunset and its predecessor paint a delightful answer.
Great films. I can’t wait to see the third. And a reminder, the movies, their conversation, and Jessie and Celine are about more than love; they’re about life and what it means/how it looks to take some sort of perspective on it as you go along. They’re about two people, enamored or not, sharing words, sharing a moment, and sharing meaning.
The local news is hopeless. What’s helpful or informative about learning about every car crash on every major freeway? There’s a turkey found in some inland city with an arrow in its back? Big effin’ deal. Such trivial, myopic stories. Where’s the big picture? Where’s the local or state politics coverage? Where’s the debate?
I love my family, but liking them—or relating to them—is an entirely different matter. This might be snobbish or supercilious, but it seems as though we are more and more becoming of two very different worlds.
I’m the only to have entered higher education, which entails a good deal. I don’t smoke or drink as they all seem to love doing. My political beliefs, leftist though they may be, are mainstream, while my two older brothers often mention conspiracy theories. No one can seem to fathom my adherence to vegetarianism or flexitarianism.
The list kind of goes on. I’m thinking I need to take summer classes as an escape.
How does friendship last beyond that point when someone solidifies their career and enters into marriage? It seems that the moment when one “make’s a life for themselves” is the moment when friendship gets stabbed to death by supposedly higher priorities. One no longer has time to go hang, because he’s too busy hanging up the children’s laundry or is to hung up with deadlines at the office.
Maybe friendship is always playing second fiddle to other things. I am a freshman in college, and here most people spend time consumed with their studies and focused on being students. Friends just end up playing the role of lunch buddies with whom we catch up and share the details of the life we’ve been leading outside of their presence.
But, that’s the thing. Our lives kind of always existed in a realm separate from friendship. No one is born with friends. There is no place you can go strictly for friendship, strictly to be around other people and make friends. Rather, friends are the people you meet when you, for example, go to the book store to pick up a read or go to the concert to hear music from your favorite band.
So, I don’t know. I feel as though I still have so much more to give and take as friend, but I really rue the reality that as we go through life and especially as people become adults, friends just end up being those whom we squeeze in time with when we have time off from “real life”. Granted, some of my happiest moments this year at college have been spent over lunch, chatting with a friend or two, but I really just wonder if the “marginalized” role is the only one that friends can structurally play in our lives. One thing for sure is that friends are instrumental to living a happy life and, after all this little pondering, I think friends must be like life which—as they say—happens to you while you are busy making other plans.
America is happening again. My heart goes out to those in that great, historic city of Boston.
I know a tragedy is no call to be political, but I’ll be a motherfucker and be so anyway by saying this:
If those who oppose gun control were being consistent, they would say “Bombs don’t kill people! People kill people.”