My youngest sister Jeb’s favorite scenes in the movies, the ones that really made her sit at the edge of her seat, always involved the part where the lead character underwent intensive, back-breaking, soundtrack-worthy training. That was the case with The Karate Kid series – you bet she had the wax on-wax off classic memorized by heart – and the same went for Mulan, Strictly Ballroom, The Chronicles of Narnia, and most other films that she saw.
I used to think that I favored those scenes as well, until recently. This week I discovered that I much preferred those scenes of waiting in the movies. I liked the uncertainty, the agony, and the discovery that the hero/heroine went through. This usually happens towards the end of the movie, right after a gut-wrenching, painful experience so consumes the character’s good spirits and she (let’s quit pretending that I can relate to the “he’s”) decides to stop feverishly pursuing her dream, whatever it was, and she goes back to the basics. She lets go.
You can imagine these scenes with me. In Runaway Bride, this happened when Julia Robert’s character thought she almost lost Richard Gere’s character, and so she concentrated on her passion – making odd-looking lamps and finally selling them – and exercised like crazy (she loved to run). That way, when her love found her in the end, she was already complete, accomplished, and fit, all by herself. It was in the space of waiting that she found who she really could be, without the demands brought about by wanting to please another person in her life. By then, the writers of the film thought she was ready to give and receive love like she had never done before.
In Love Affair and An Affair To Remember (my favorite chick flicks that my friend Saruman cannot stand), the period of waiting occurred while the star-crossed lovers spent six months apart, before and even after, the agreed-upon meeting at the top of the Empire State Building. She pursued her passion for music while he finally got a decent job and learned to earn money. They had no idea what the other person was going through during that time of distance, but they each tried to become the best that they could be.
These quiet, sad scenes always pave the way for a happier ending. In Bridget Jones’ Diary, after breaking up with a guy who cheated her (the incorrigible Hugh Grant), she lost the weight and did well in her job. She threw away the pathetic books that filled her nightstand, and purchased self-help books. She grew more comfortable with herself and thus was able to consider herself worthy of the love that was offered to her by the irresistible Colin Firth.
Those scenes in between the highlight of the films and their production-number, fireworks-inducing endings sent the message to the viewers that they had to start looking inwardly if they wanted change in their lives. War, sickness, loss, heartache or betrayal had not killed them yet and they had to find what it was that was worth living for. In some cases, the heroines got swept off their feet (Pretty Woman’s white limousine/carriage and long umbrella/sword is a good example), while in others, the characters simply moved on. The person or situation they were waiting for never came about, and the movie ended with them being forever changed by the waiting and content to be so changed.
I just might be in such a scene right now. This week has been a journey in picking up the pieces of what a tumultuous, but exciting, year 2005 brought me and concentrating on what I am really about as an individual. I have learned that letting go of music, writing, dance, reading, friends, cooking and other things I loved just because some dreams ended with a loud, hapless thug the past few years wasn’t healthy. And even though the work that I am in right now is still being defined, I have come to believe that work does not define me. In Fr. Jboy's words, Ella, if you're happy, stop being guilty.
So after the changes and leave-takings that are ongoing in this movie, and before any conclusions are reached as to the major areas in my life (career, mission, passion, family, and/or lack thereof), I am here, now, waiting. I am not in training, because that means there’s a defined agenda, a schedule, and a goal in mind. I have been through so much of that all my life. I have seen some triumphs and had my share of failures. Right now, I think what I'm called to do is to polish, get rid of, take up, and let go of.
Once again, I am busy waiting.