Tuesday, February 16, 2010

beautiful sadness

One of the challenges of my life is finding balance. I've constructed a black and white world that often smacks me with its brightness and rigidity. I need more gray. I need fuzziness and shadows and opportunities to pull away from the magnetic polarities that seduce me into believing that things are either fantastic or hopeless. Today is Mardi Gras, a day devoted to over-indulgence, to final binging before the subdued asceticism of Lent. It's a holiday of extremes. Exactly what I want to get away from.

Which reminds me of two heartbreaking pieces of art where both suffering and joy shimmer because they are linked, not absolute, not separate. The Diving Bell and The Butterfly is a book to savor slowly, like fine chocolate. It melts on the tongue and warms the belly. Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of Elle magazine in France, had a sudden stroke that left him completely mute and rigid except for the blinking of his left eye, which is how he wrote this gut-stirring testament to life. Though his corporeal life is over, his mind, his spirit, rustles with vibrant urgency. I read it easily in a day, from the car ride through the forest to the couch, bathed in evening

Dirty Filthy Love is a movie about a man suffering with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Turrets Syndrome. He suffers because he is aware of what he is doing and yet he can’t help it. He suffers because anxiety is isolating. And yet he also experiences some of the sweetest moments life can possibly offer up, even a transcendental intimacy with a lovely woman. Set in London, this film has smartly satisfying camera work; it approaches the characters with the utmost compassion, as if stroking them gently on the cheek. I haven’t cried this much since The Wrestler---the good, heaving kind of crying that feels like all the beautiful sadness of the world is breathing right through me.

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