Last night my girlfriend decided I needed a good cry and put on the movie Up. After the now-infamous Carl & Ellie montage we paused the movie to catch our breath and chuckle as if we weren’t being emotionally annihilated by a children’s movie. We checked the DVR and realized we were barely 10 minutes into the movie, the montage taking up only about 5 minutes of that. Somehow in this short span of time, the dastardly writers, editors, composer, and director strummed our heart strings like Hendrix. I can only imagine the plight of parents in the theater with their kids for the first time, not expecting this colorful cartoon about the spirit of adventure to dive into themes of death, mourning, and… losing a pregnancy? Damn Pixar.
I work in a dull office. In the break room we have a TV mounted on the wall that’s constantly displaying one of those screensaver slideshows of mountains and lakes. Lately I’ve been lingering on my water breaks. I find myself receiving much more nourishment from the images on screen than I get from the water cooler.
What does it mean to feel happy-sad? And why is this always such a difficult feeling to put into words? Not happy-turned-sad or the other way around, but together in one, partly sunny emotion. I recently watched La La Land again, and was pleasantly reminded that this complex emotion exists.
Think about how you are able to look back on a memory fondly, one that brought you joy, laughter, excitement, love; but one that has passed. The moment, though a wonderful one, is gone. The closest label I can think of is a kind of cathartic nostalgia. Sometimes it feels good to ache and embrace life’s growing pains.
We don’t choose when we are born or where we are born. We don’t choose the neighborhood we grow up in or the middle school we attend. However, once these stipulations are chosen for us, it is largely up to us who we connect with. A mixture of chance encounters and force of will, the people we interact with can either be a passing event or the beginning of a long friendship. As we grow older, these webs of people we connect with become more and more intricate.
But even on a larger scale, when we are grown and have a bit more say in our circumstances, we’re still only floating around. Billions of people, all with their own complex and sophisticated story, just like you. Their own ambitions, friendships, religious beliefs, anxieties, joys, illnesses, loves, opinions about the latest Fast and Furious movie, the list could literally go on forever. The point is, everyone’s web is equally elaborate and ultimately their own. You are merely an extra in everyone else’s movie as they are in yours. When you connect with someone, whether by chance or choice, you entangle your webs together. For however brief it may be, you become a part of someone else’s life story.
How do you go about describing something that is indescribable? Metaphors? Describing its results? Everyone has their own interpretation, but most of them evoke similar feelings. This is not meant to read as an authority on the subject nor is it instruction on how to overcome its effects. This is only an attempt to put into words something that is so universally felt yet so difficult to define. Heartbreak is unavoidable, which seems to make it all the more tragic and unfair. People can try their hardest to evade its reach but avoiding it is no way to live. A life lived without giving your heart, is worse than one in which you have it broken a million times. Giving your heart to someone is like handing someone your only parachute, hurling yourself headfirst out of an airplane, and hoping they give it back (let the metaphors begin). So, what happens when you get your parachute back and it’s torn to shreds? You hit the ground.