Does anyone else enjoy an afternoon hanging out in a sub-zero movie theater when it’s 105 degrees outside in the shade? Literal fry an egg on the pavement weather. I’ll quickly jump on that train as an escape and, hopefully, to be entertained. Which I was last weekend, enjoying The Farewell.
I’ll openly admit subtitles are not my normal jam, but this film transitioned in and out of Chinese, so I had no choice. Easily overlooked given the sweetness and care given to the subject. The film was based in part on the life experiences of the director, Lulu Wang, and depicts a family who, upon learning their beloved grandmother has only months to live, decide not to tell her and instead plan a family gathering before she dies.
Though underlying tensions about the decision not to tell the grandmother existed throughout, the secret was kept. Family members made sacrifices to keep the news secret. Enjoying a celebration filled with laughter, family and friends, you watch what you presume are the grandmother’s final days. Only to learn in the credits of the film (and in full disclosure, spoiler alert), the grandmother had not passed six years later when the film was made.
Leaving the theater, melancholic feelings washed over me. A warm sweetness largely brought about by the portrayal of the care and concern the family had to protect their grandmother. The film lingered with me for other reasons as well, wondering if there was something to the innocent ignorance on behalf of the grandmother and her prolonged health.
I’ve realized I’m at a tipping point in life where health issues are perhaps less “issues” and more a byproduct of entering middle age. My curiosity for all things medical though is so strong that when I sense something is wrong, I want to figure it out. Good or bad, that’s led to more than I bargained for. And while my medical curiosity is fed, I wonder about the benefits of not knowing.
Through much research and study, I understand the influence our minds have on our overall health. If we experience stress, that impacts our bodies, more than I’d like to acknowledge in my case. But our minds…they call a lot of the shots.
I’ve begun to realize that in some instances, perhaps we’re better off to not know what’s going on inside of us (ok…I wonder that but at the same time hope they invent the human version of the diagnostic tool used to figure out why the check engine light is on in your car…so.many.possibilities). What would we do differently if we weren’t waiting for the other shoe to drop? Knowing we have X Y or Z condition that could manifest at any time. Like the grandmother in The Farewell who continued thriving because she wasn’t worried, looking for the manifestation of her illness.
What if instead our minds weren’t distracted with problems and we focused on living? Often, we rush to nail down what’s next. In health, what will be the next symptom or sign we’re watching for (which is not a statement against medical treatment – don’t mistake me – it’s over analyzing each ache and pain that perhaps in a natural byproduct of having lived 50, 60 or more years). In life, a posture of waiting for conditions to be exactly right for happiness, the right weight, a perfect relationship, job success. We put off being in the moment and patiently waiting for what’s next in an urgency to get conditions exactly right.
Could we choose to slow down? To live in a space of not knowing, and being content with that? Not rushing to the conclusion, the answer…and instead sit with the knowledge that you’re doing, being, feeling, exactly what you’re supposed to in this moment. Take a breath and sit with who you are today. Enjoy the sweet simpleness that arises when you’re present with yourself and those around you? I believe it’s worth the effort. Worth putting down the worries that occupy our minds and simply be.
What about you? What do you need to put down and be patient about so that you can be in the moment, enjoying life and those around you? Once you let the burden go, you might miss it for a while, but the abundance that can fill that space is worth the shift. Give it a try, I’m on the journey with you.