Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life




*If you're one of the few people on this planet who hasn't seen this movie, stop what you're doing and go watch it--then come back and read this later. Think of it as my Christmas present to you.

I can't remember the first time I saw this movie in it's entirety, since like so many Christmas traditions it seems as if its always been there, always playing in the background somewhere during the holiday season. But no matter how many times I've seen it, I can't help but love it every single time. I love it. I get all misty eyed and I just can't help but feel like the world is a glorious place, filled with glorious people making the most of their glorious lives. Additionally, I am always surprised when I meet someone who doesn't care for this movie. Whaa? It just doesn't compute. It's like the guy I once met who didn't like chocolate. I was certain he had it all wrong. Are you sure you've had the right kind of chocolate? Like chocolate chocolate? You know it should have some sugar in it to taste good...What about chocolate milk? Really? Nothing? So lemme get this straight...you don't like chocolate?

Exactly. It's that befuddling to me.

Part of my love for this movie stems from the fact that I am one of those people who feels that they were born in the wrong time period. I definitely should have been alive in the 1940's--living in some quaint and picturesque small town, dancing the Charleston at the local high school dance and selling war bonds to support the boys overseas. But beyond that what is it about this movie that I love so much? I'll try to explain... As you know a good part of the movie is spent watching George Bailey {Jimmy Stewart} deal with disappointment after disappointment in his less-than-exciting, small town life. George is the man who dreams big, but with the odds always stacked against him settles for a simple, yet honorable life. It's not that he is making choices between right and wrong {that would be too obvious} but his choices are between what he truly wants for his life, and what would be best for those around him. Honestly no one would blame him if he made the decision to do what he wanted to do, he could have easily said It's not my problem, I have a life to live and he'd be right. Instead, when two paths lay before him, both noble in their own right, he makes the unselfish choice. Being unselfish is not a popular trait. It sounds desirable, but the choices that George makes would be seen as spineless and downright stupid in today's world. As the story progresses and the underwhelming circumstances of George's life continue to unfold he finds himself in a pickle. A real pickle. This is of course, the axis on which the whole story turns...as George is feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders he starts to wish that he were dead--or better yet that he had never been born at all. Of course his wish is granted and he gets to see just how far reaching his sphere of influence really is. If you remember, it's not just his close friends and family that are affected, but the entire town of Bedford Falls and even men fighting a far off war in a far off place that would have drastically different lives--and in some cases no life at all. I feel there is more truth to this sentiment than we truly comprehend.

In a world where we are admonished to dream big! and live life to the fullest!, many people feel that they are doing an inadequate job of living if they haven't had some measurable amount of worldly success. Yes for some the big dreams do come true and it's certainly not a bad thing. But there are many whose dreams, no matter how noble and no matter how deserving they are will not become a reality. And because we all strive for greatness, it's hard to accept when we feel as though we're falling short and that life in general is lacking. There are a few people who seem to encompass the best traits for both earthly and heavenly success. However, in most cases I believe you will have to choose to develop the traits necessary for either earthly success or eternal success--not both--because usually they are in direct opposition to each other. This reminds me of a passage in CS Lewis' book The Great Divorce {which is the story of a man who takes a bus from hell up to Heaven, and what he sees and who he meets when he arrives there}. As he's watching one particular Heavenly spirit he realizes that she's quite important and he thinks for a moment that he knows who this great person is, when his host stops him and says..."It's someone ye'll never have heard of...Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things." Additionally, fame and fortune simply is not possible for each and every person on this earth {someone has to collect the garbage, someone has the plow the snow}. But being a good person, caring about others more than ourselves is something we can all aspire to, no matter our circumstances. It's a Wonderful Life is not the story of a perfect man who is cognisant of his noble and humble life choices. George is the everyman who feels defeat and frustration, but who ultimately leads a simple life of selflessness and comes to find the true glory and beauty of just such a life.

We just watched it last night, but I might need a second screening. 


5 comments:

  1. I started watching the first half hour of this movie before church this morning and I'm so happy I can go watch the rest with this perspective!.

    I love blogging. I believe I met you once or twice in college via B (which means there's a strong possibility you don't remember me at all :) and then happened upon your blog through a strand of others and I'm so happy I did!

    I was just telling my husband that I feel like a better person after reading so many of your posts and thought I should tell you the same :) Through this little outlet of yours, I've come to have a very high opinion of you. I love your perspective on life and your sense of style--so thank you for always sharing your fun, wise words.

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  2. Miggy,

    I totally agree with you and I love to read your posts. So...the hat is finally finished. Sorry it took so long, Kal has been sick for two months so I didn't have the time I usually do for knitting. Here's my junk mail email address: momofrtz@yahoo.com. Email me and then we'll swap addresses.

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  3. This is the only movie I own, and I love it!

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  4. Jazzy-wow. Thank you. I agree with the whole blogging thing...it's an opportunity to know people you might not actually KNOW. I'm glad you come here too. :) And thanks for the compliment. You're really sweet.

    Mo--No way! You're done? Ok I've been a slacker, but I can whip out a purse in a day or two...I don't have a ton of fabric right now, but I definitely have some good stuff...do you want to choose the fabric, or just have me go crazy and come up with something on my own? I'm excited.

    Julie--If you only have 1 movie, this is the movie to have.

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  5. Thanks for this post and your insightful commentary. We watched the movie last week too but I passed out for the best part...the last scene.

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