June 28th, 2005
Reflection on a Summer Day
Finally, I am into
summer. The days are lazily endless,
which suits the endlessly lazy self I have become. I stay up till 2, wake up at 10 or so and
sorta blunder my way through the days.
Before the Bay State
prelims, I’d been training, running and timing myself at the track up at Andover,
but my short weeks of employment are over and now I actually don’t know of any
good tracks near by enough for me to muster the willpower to get up and go
there. I think I should and I think I
will run today, sometime in the evening, maybe around 5. It should be cooler then. Then again, I might just slip back into the
languid heat of the house, gazing at flickering ads and shows or whatever.
It’s not all
wasted however. Even though I vegetate
in front of the TV as a couch potato, the things I watch are strangely
stirring. It’s suddenly so strange: I
find myself at home, unassailed by the wartime blows of emotional aches and
pains, nor the stresses of work and other’s particular hurts. I ask my friends (from Andover or church) how
they are, and I get a genuine, “things are good” which is, during the school
year, simply the nonchalant answer that is seared into our behavioral cortexes
– the ever-present brand from the proverbial cowboy Society that tells us to
simply pretend everything’s fine. But
back to the screenplay. I watch movies,
TV, TV series etc., and pass my hours that way.
I watch all sorts of movies, from suspense to action, or romance to
comedy, because I have the time, and I want to.
But again, they’re somehow not completely wasted. The hours of art imitating life or art
laughing at life teach me something (well, the comedies don’t do much, but
that’s beside the point).
Things like Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid serve to help us consider the hero in the
bad. Are criminals like these two really
bad guys? Things like Drumline or Dodgeball entertain you with flair, fanfare, action
and predictable plots, and the beauty of it is that you feel safe watching such
a movie, knowing that even though Patches O’Houlihan gets clobbered by a
falling casino sign and though the main character drummer (I already forget his
name…) gets pulled from the drum line, a movie of this caliber, class and
plot-line will of course be a happy ending.
You don’t have to worry about the characters. Just enjoy the show for crying out loud.
Red Dragon serves to do the opposite, forcing you question why the seemingly
too-easy death of the Dragon occurs. You
watch very lull in the movie preparing for a scare or a gory surprise, and it
keeps you on your toes. You watch in
horror as the killer takes victims. But
of course, again, you don’t have to worry.
1) It’s based on a fictional book, and 2) it is of course a Hollywood movie.
The one scene that struck me however was when Ralph Fiennes and his
blind girlfriend are standing amidst the fire.
Fiennes is carrying a shotgun and is struggling with the idea of
disobeying the psychotic voice of the dragon in his head and obeying the voice
which instructs him to murder the innocent girl. He doesn’t know what to do, and they both are
on the verge of tears (I describe this scene as if it’s docile and purely
emotional. I emphasize: the house is
burning down and add that police are arriving to take him down. But back to the story). In his desperation, Fiennes cries out “But
you felt so good.” Despite her tears and
fear, she cries, “So did you!” He refers
not only to their physical encounter the night before, but I think, also to the
emotional safety he feels with her, I’d argue even, the love he feels for her
(though he’s a complete maniac, perhaps love is beyond him…but I also argue
that movie pushes that he is capable of loving, but is simply caught in the
struggle between crazy self and normal self).
The idea of ripping apart the perfection that was achieved, taking a
12-gauge to tear down the love he feels was strangely human.
In a more abstract sense – for my purposes, my
explanation will eliminate the psychotic nature of Fiennes and obscure the
sinister character of the Dragon’s “voice” – Ralph Fiennes is struggling with
letting go of someone he loves on purpose, even though his heart is telling him
otherwise. He wants to be with her, but
he of course wants to listen to the voices he hears. Now, the voices in his head are 100% evil,
crazy and not loving whatsoever. He
doesn’t really want to listen, but being forced to listen. But in essence, he’s choosing between the
higher power and one he loves. I’ll
leave that to discerning people to figure w.t.h. I’m talking about. Oh yes, by the way, I’m doing marvelously
better in that field.
Anyways, these movies as a whole have let me
look at myself, and at life, from the vantage point of the emotional bunker
that is vacation and home. I don’t have
to worry about so many things, and I haven’t been. I’m not hurting as much from my own
wounds. And I’ll tell you, it’s wonderful. My relationship with God is getting better
too. I have some other screenplays
however that I found more affecting than those above.
was interestingly painful to watch, the romantic human’s worst nightmare on
screen. I don’t pretend to identify with
vaudeville dancers or French showmen, but the image of Ewan MacGregor helpless
embrace is astoundingly real to me.
Having tasted of love, life, and the joy that is romance, I am simply
one of many who have, at some point or other, pushed the fear of losing our
most loved one into the backs of our minds because it is too terrible a
prospect to dwell on. The plot of Moulin
Rouge with all its odd singing and dancing paraphernalia were amusing and
funny, but Nicole Kidman’s death was a terrible reminder of what those who love
fear most. Now of course, I may be
referring to the fears I had when I was a boyfriend, but I think it applies to
everyone. Like I said, “those who love”
must at some point or other get scared that our friends and family are hurt or
missing or something. When people don’t
call when they’re supposed to, they show up much later than you expect, or you
can’t find them when you’re looking for them are just daily reminders of how
awful a thing that would be.
On the news lately
too, I’ve seen so many stories about so many children drowning. I saw one about a man last night who was working
to bring his family to the US
but drowned one month from the arrival.
I’ve seen so many driving accidents, one where that permit-driver rolled
the SUV down the hill and crushed a mother working in her garden. I saw the story where a 16-year-old boy crossed
a double solid yellow line and ran head on into three other cars. And got his 14-year-old girlfriend
killed. Why are these people dying? Why do dumb drivers do dumb things like steal
a car and drive with only a permit? Why
does that dumb 16-year-old kid even THINK to cross a double yellow and
charge into incoming traffic? Why does a
grown man who can’t swim go into the pool to cool off? It just seems so ridiculous that these people
are dead. Death because of negligence is
a horrific crime I think, not only because it’s death, but because it occurs
due to stupid and silly mistakes. No one
was watching the kids when they went to the pond, no one thought about the
moral dilemma of leaving a dying woman stranded under an overturned SUV before
running away to save your own skin. It’s
ridiculous. And that’s the kind of fear,
nightmare and horror that I was reminded of on the nightly news and the 2 hours
of Moulin Rouge. Don’t do stupid
things, you hurt other people to.
Rouge reminded me of such profoundly serious aspect of my life, there was
another movie that told me of an aspect that I do not have in life. The most moving, inspiring and contemplative
piece however, is not just 90-190 minutes, rather it’s 10 hours long. Band of Brothers, a miniseries about
US Paratroopers, World War II, and all that is a soldier was a long haul
through a lot of people swearing, joking, drinking, shooting, bleeding, dying,
screaming, sharing and longing. There’s
probably more adjectives I got attribute to the show, but that’d be long-winded
I think. I watch as hardened men rush to
save their friends despite impassable fire.
I see a soldier lose his three best friends but shed no tears and
stiff-arm through the emotional burden.
I watch blood and the horrors of battle too. There is a significant part about
concentration camps for Jews, but this most horrific tragedy is a unique
feature, not necessarily common to all war.
Ethnic cleansings do occur (Kosovo, Rwanda)
but war in its most basic form is soldier versus soldier. Though Band of Brothers is all about
the 101st Airborne in WWII, the experiences and depiction of
emotions is greater than one war. And I
find myself wondering how I’d fare in such a circumstance. Would I be physically tough enough to shoot,
stab or tackle an enemy with a rifle, knife or my bare hands? Would I have the guts and selfless drive to
charge through shells and gunfire to fight or to save a wounded comrade? Would I be able to hold in the fear and the
pain that all soldiers face when friends are killed? Could I kill?
Could I withstand the interminable cold of a Belgian winter? In short, if the time ever came, would I be
I don’t really
I feel an
emotional stir as I watch them carry the emaciated Jewish prisoners away, as
they drag their blasted comrades across the snow and all of that. I watch and sympathize when they die. I say “sympathize” because, having never been
a soldier, I clearly cannot “empathize” with them. I can only guess as to what it’d be
like. Now, I love action movies, war
movies, and games like Battlefield or Counter-Strike. But, I’m
not trying to glorify war in this one.
Despite the whole aspect of male enjoyment of fantasy violence (video
games and action movies are clear testaments to this), I do find that war
is…respectable, not because violence is good and men should die at each other’s
hands, but because it makes soldiers into brothers and makes good men
golden. Of course, it’s not really worth
the cost. “Collateral damage” is
terrific. In one episode, two soldiers
break into a house in a town that they have to take, and find a family
crouching on the floor. The two soldiers
had just decided against tossing in two grenades to clean the house out
first. But of course, there are crazy
people who understand that violence is the most absolute of solutions – those
who are dead can present no opposition.
The sickness of it is that men like Hitler raise their armies and make
them want it, and then there’s a war that the world must fight. And of course, when crazy men do crazy
things, those that don’t want the insanity of it have to fight back or have
their lives destroyed. What if, during
my lifetime that call came up? Again, I
don’t really know.
Another thing that
I’ve been doing however is spending time in front of my computer finding out
things about college. I’ve spent hours
looking up times and dates for sessions and tours for the 16 or so colleges we
may or may not visit. This screen time
has also allowed me to find out that I’m not so afraid of this whole “college
thing” as I have been before. Suddenly,
it’s kind of exciting. We’re planning
road trips to visit campuses, see schools and figure what I like or don’t
like. I’m planning my future, planning
myself in a sense, and it’s not nearly as frightening as I thought it would
be. Of course, this is probably due to
the fact that I’m not really that afraid of how I’ll end up. In fact, I’m rather confident, confident that
I’ll get into a few (if not a handful) of the schools on my “reach” list. In truth, I don’t really know if it’s
true. Deserving people don’t often get
into their top choices these days and I have been well aware of the complicated
nature of admission and application. I’m
relying on the fact that I’m a “well-rounded student” who does well in all my
classes and subjects. I’m relying more
on the fact that I’m a “well-rounded person,” who has great aptitude in
academics, athletics, music, faith (religion) and leadership. Still, I wonder how the schools will see me.
Now, I absolutely
do not want to wallow and cause people misery by talking about myself. But of course, no matter how good we are,
even in our best aspects, we worry.
People smarter than me at Andover
have so many times expressed worry and regret about a test grade of “only 90”
or the lament that “I’ll only get three 6s this term” or other such cacophonous
cries from the smarter-than-thou. Please
note, I’m not making fun of you. But,
always, my response and my friends’ response is one of reassurance. We highlight the intelligence or whatever
skill is “in danger” at the moment and tell them that colleges will
notice. And they believe me, or they
believe us. And they should, because I’m
telling the truth. I don’t tell people
“oh you’ll definitely get into MIT” or any such preposterously overconfident
phrases, but I do know that my friends will end up well with any of their
skills. There are probably people who
want what I have and all of that. We
always have someone who wants something you have, and somehow we always what
someone else has. In any case, I’m just
expressing that we all do it. We all
worry about our strength and ask “will I be good enough.” I guess what I’m saying is that I feel
confident, and I feel good about this whole situation but in truth I don’t
So in short, right
now, I’m doing introspection. Wondering
about things in a sense. From watching
so many hours of movies and clicking so many college links, I ask a lot of
questions, about my life, about what my life has shown me, and about what my
life will show me. So many
questions! Would I be a good soldier? How have I reacted to the emotional attacks
I’ve endured? Will these colleges like
me? How am I as a person? How am I as a human? It’s awfully complicated and it being summer,
I won’t drag on too long. But, I will
give one answer. In a few genuine and
telling words: I don’t really know.