Spoiler Alert

I was watching the movie Source Code. If you haven’t seen it, the movie is, I think, worth watching. I don’t want to give it away, but suffice to say that it speaks to a very apocalyptic situation and the attempt to prevent it. At any rate, at the end of the film is a moment where the hero is riding a train into Chicago. He has gotten a man, normally a sourpuss, to entertain the riders in the train car –to make them laugh– and he does. The hero then kisses a girl he has been admiring, having just found out that she has been admiring him as well. The film freeze frames right at that moment and the camera, tight on the hero and his lady, pulls back further and further to reveal the happiness in that rail car and all of its laughing passengers. It was at that moment I felt the tear roll down my cheek.

“What the…” I said aloud, and wiped at my face. I wondered why it was that I felt such emotion at that moment; I’m not much on getting misty over movies. But I sat there and looked at that frozen frame and saw that it contained happiness and love, carrying such a wonderful sense of hope and future. I realized how much I wanted the world to be like that. How much I wanted happiness and laughter, love and hopefulness to be as much a part of our world as it was in that frozen moment in time. Of course, it also made me think about my situation and that led me to think of the others, both like me and worse off and when I heard myself speak aloud again, it was to hear myself say “No.” I hate that there is pain and suffering. I hate that there is hatred and prejudice and insensitivity. I didn’t realize just how much I absolutely hate all of the negatives that life seems to manifest and I really didn’t give a damn that it takes unhappiness to know what joy is. Ignorance is bliss isn’t it? We don’t need to have such an understanding of all the shittiness there is in the world.

It’s funny that I should have a moment of profoundness coming from a stupid movie. After all, movies are all about fiction. They’re dramas thought up by someone trying to make a mark in the world and earn a couple of bucks in the offing.  But then, maybe it’s just a thought that had been winding its way through my synapses, looking for a way to jump out, and the movie gave it an opportunity to escape. As it did, it triggered my emotions by means of explaining how important to me that escaping thought was. Just a nanosecond of electrical spark jumping the neurons.

One of the very best ways to make me uncomfortable –no, make that annoyed– is to use the expression “God’s Will” when talking about some negativity. You see, I believe in free will. I think we get to make choices in life. Not only that, but I think that the sum total of our thoughts form our character. I’m not going to get into a nature or nurture discussion here, I’m just going to say that no matter what, we have the ability to choose our own destiny and often it’s little thoughts that create the pathway when we don’t even realize that’s what our thoughts at that moment are doing. As such, I don’t think that anything is preordained or even ordained by a lofty power. I think it’s up to us to find our way by making the right choices at the decision points that dot the side of life’s road. It is my choice to think that things could be better if only everyone would make better choices, and often the better choice puts others ahead of ourselves. I also know that doing that can be terribly difficult, because it is inherent in us to be self-serving. It’s called survival instinct and it’s a very powerful drive. But I believe that we need to be smart enough to know that there are times that we should do the thing that doesn’t feel intuitive.

I think I do that when I refuse to shop at WalMart, try to buy American products, and nag my household about saving electricity. I think I do that when I risk telling a friend that they are doing something I believe is wrong, even though it might jeopardize a friendship I value. Not that I’m special, I also think that most people try to be that way. Actually, I think I’m anything but special. But I’m not sure that others have the perspective I do about others. That we all have such exquisite value and such great potential and just how awful it is when circumstance prevents us from experiencing the best life we can. My wife says I have too much empathy because I have to deal with pain and disability all the time. As if maybe had I not been a victim of Multiple Myeloma I might be a lot more of a dick. She might be right, but I’d like to think that I would have the same sense of fairness, the same sense of empathy no matter how things had gone. Maybe that’s a question for the nature versus nurture conversation. Perhaps it’s just hubris, but I think I’m on to something good with my wish that everyone could achieve a peaceful happiness in life. I think that there is enough collateral damage, enough side effects in life that people don’t need to add to them.

Then again, I’m not Ghandi either. There are people I would dearly love to beat within an inch of their ignorant, egotistical and damage-inflicting lives. That’s hardly the epitome of empathy, right? Or is it? Maybe I see how the tromping of a single person might bring such great joy to so many and I get stuck in that whole end justifies the means thing. Eew. So much for sainthood for me!  I guess it’s why life can be so confusing and why making good decisions is a lot easier to pontificate about than actually do. How can I stand here and point my finger at others and say tsk-tsk about their choices when I can certainly see the flaws in my own cognition?

I guess I’m not so much as making suggestions as wishing. And all because I saw some stupid movie that had this really wonderful moment in it. That made me think about all the good that is in people and how it is just so damn pleasant to see all of those smiling faces while the guy gets the girl. Then comes the grounding moment as the flaws in me reveal themselves and I realize that I just saw a movie. A fiction. A contrivance of the mind that demonstrates an impossible world.

But a guy can hope, can’t he?