Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

I just finished watching the movie Rabbit Hole.  While it is after 2:00am, and I'm sleepy and red-eyed from crying, I had some thoughts that I wanted to get down.

A summary, if you will.
If you don't know the story, here's a quick run down.  (By the way, Rabbit Hole is a fantastic play by David Lindsay-Abaire, which was later made into a movie staring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart.)  

Howie and Becca are married and have a son, Danny.  Danny happens to chase his dog, who is chasing a ball, into the street when Becca isn't looking and is hit by a car.  That car is driven by a teenage boy named Jason who, in swerving to miss the dog, hits Danny instead and kills him.  

That's the past.  The play, and the movie, are based on what is happening 8 months later.  Becca is trying to donate all evidence of Danny's prior existence to Goodwill, while Howie sits up late at night watching home videos of the three of them over and over and over again.  They clearly are trying to cope in completely separate ways.  They haven't had sex since Danny died.  They've fallen into a co-existence that is so fragile and tense, it could snap at any moment.  Becca seeks out Jason, the boy who was driving the car that hit her son.  Over time they develop a simple friendship that helps them begin to accept the events that took place.  The result is an intimate look at how grief changes people, but specifically how the death of a child affects the parents.  More importantly, on a broader spectrum, the story is about how you choose to play the cards you're dealt.

"Somewhere out there I'm happy."
One of the conversations Jason and Becca have is about alternate universes.  The idea that there are multiple versions of you in different universes at the same time, living out different lives.  Becca's response is, "So we are just the sad version of ourselves . . . . Somewhere out there I'm happy."

Lately, I've become really interested in "gut reactions."  I think I've learned how to stay in control, how to keep calm, and how to maintain face so often, that when I have a strong gut reaction to something, it really makes me pay attention.  A couple of weeks ago at work, in the store, a woman I was waiting on clapped at me from across the store and shouted "I'm in a hurry! I need to go!"  Apparently, I wasn't moving swiftly enough for her liking.  I sort of glared at her, but didn't really bat an eyelash.  Several employees came up to me afterwards and said, "How did you act like that was nothing?  I think I would have cried."

When that line of the movie was spoken, I immediately had this moment where I held my breath and thought: "I hope that's not how I'm living my life."  


Am I just the sad version of myself, of what I could be?
I don't ask this to be depressing.  I don't plan to dwell on it indefinitely - I know where that sort of thing can lead.  But I do think it should lead to acknowledging that we have all been given one - ONE - opportunity here to play our cards.  It's too easy to find a routine and fall into it, only to be shaken awake 20 or 30 years later realizing you never took any risks, and you're not all together happy.  

I don't want that to be me.

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