People start rifling through their things, pulling on coats and lighting up their phones. I offer a slanted glare or two, and remain seated. I am lost in the words and in the music and in the story, and that’s how I think it should be. I try to soak in what I witnessed on the screen and my eyes fog over a bit as the credits roll.
Don’t you people have any respect? Are you that unmoved? Sit down and be quiet or get out. Bon Iver is even playing right now, and his music doesn’t exactly invite incessant chatter.
My inner dialogue is full of scorn for this particular movie theater crowd, I’m aware of this. I’ll let you in on a not-so-well-kept secret.
I possess little patience for those who brush off heart wrenching stories as if they were crumbs.
Say nothing if you don’t know what to say, but don’t degrade a story with immediate attention to things that need not be immediate. Your coat can wait. Your keys will be found. Your texts, Facebook and Twitter account are here to stay. Your commentary can storm from your mouth once you’re out the door.
Maybe irritation comes easily to me because I love stories, always have. A story is so important to me that I will give myself to it, knowing that I might never be the same afterward. In fact, I almost always hope to be changed. Movies, books, conversations, blog posts, letters, they all contain an opportunity for change, for growth. The most important thing stories hold is an opportunity for empathy.
Of course some stories won’t move every single person to tears, laughter, or thoughtful questions. Some stories will be forgotten. Words that someone else lived and breathed will not always strike the heart. But I want my heart to be ready in the event that the message inclines toward my soul or collides with my dreams or stretches me to places I’ve never been able to go to or cared to see. I want to be changed by stories because of the people that live them, and I want to honor the storytelling process.
And yes, I make an effort to take my role as a listener very seriously, even while watching a movie.
I’m particular about movies, especially those I see in theaters. I tend to be drawn to dark dramas. I choose to see dark films more than anything else because that’s what I relate to best. Pain and I have become intimate partners.
Show me your sorrow; allow me to enter it. Give me some rage; lose control. Contemplate revenge, justice or lust, and let me struggle with you.
Black Swan. Gone Baby Gone. Martha Marcy May Marlene. Rachel Getting Married. These movies made me feel; they awakened the dusty corners of my psyche. The characters, the moral dilemmas, the pathos of it all kept me company for days. A Place Beyond the Pines was like that too.
Yes, the chatty, seemingly calloused film attending crowd bothered me, but as I watched the credits roll, I was awake and alive with both belief and doubt. This movie, perhaps more than any other recent film, propelled me to consider the weight an apology can carry.
That phrase, those two words, is what A Place Beyond the Pines left me contemplating.
Forgiveness, the unearthing of hurt, follows that phrase.
Or does it?
What if we acknowledge the apology, but we don’t forgive? Is it possible to move on from the hurt, the rage? Do you have to live in bitterness if you don’t offer forgiveness for the wrongs committed against you?
I’m not exactly sure of the answers.
What I do know is that apologies, if spoken to maintain or regain power cease to be meaningful. Apologies aren’t about having the upper hand, or at least they shouldn’t be. Apologies aren’t about righting wrongs; they’re about acknowledging them. Saying you’re sorry is not the same as asking forgiveness.
Three little syllables meant something new to me after that night at the movie theater. The phrase was new to me because I felt the heaviness of those words in both the tender and violent story weaving; I wanted those words to be threaded in me too. I wanted to enter into the story, and I did. In entering the story, questions from my past were both revived and laid to rest, and I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for doubt and belief, and the struggle with what it means to truly be sorry.
What thoughts do you have about apologies or forgiveness? Are there any particular films or novels that impacted your views on this subject? Thanks for reading.