“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
(Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump)
I was watching the movie “Cloud Atlas.” It’s a strange, unusual movie I think. It was difficult to patch the six-ages stories together so I started over from the beginning to get a foot hold on the events. The first scene opens with Zachary (Tom Hanks), as an old man. As he is thinking aloud I felt an image bubble up from my subconscious. I saw us as chocolates in a box. With each succeeding box we never knew who we were choosing to be.
It is a subconscious metaphor. That happens once in a while when I am in a particular state of mind: relaxed, intrigued, curious, mentally free but striving to understand. As I listened to Zachary’s monologue that is a review of his present life, I thought of my friend who wants to die and whose family is angrily struggling to keep her alive. She has been telling me about her method of slow suicide which she hopes will go undetected by her family and doctors. In the middle of this reverie I saw the chocolates. I wondered about the connection. Then I felt it – our unawareness of truth most of the time – what Zachary calls “The True True”. We think this box we fill is all there is. We don’t see beyond it into the distant future and then beyond that. We don’t reverie about the distant past and beyond that. We think, and believe, that this life’s pains and joys are the true-true.
But when I had a glimpse of the box with its chocolates I feel the surreality of life on this planet. We come here, we leave here, we come here, we leave here. It was an ingenious idea to use the same actors playing people who interconnect with each other in each new age. The heavily scarred Zachary feels an excruciating pain when he witnesses, some years before, the violent deaths of his brother-in-law and nephew, but we have seen him before over and over like God sees us. And we know that his life is not what it seems to him.
The chocolates will be eaten. Then a new box will appear with new chocolates. For a moment I was looking down on this box from above as I imagine God and the angels do. This ‘knowing’, as my sister-in-law describes it, benefits me when I get caught up in a thinking that is a believing that this time is all there is and every choice matters and every outcome matters. I have difficulty with making decisions because of my upbringing where any mistake was met with derision and drama. I have difficulty letting go of things that I feel I cannot live without. But this is a fog that I create because of my belief that my place in this box — that is my present life — is all there is. In a way, each decision and outcome do matter but only to the extent that they walk out of the past and travel into any of an infinite number of futures which I will eventually be a part of again.
If you have read any of my earlier weblogs you know that I feel a special connection to the Universe. So as I was writing this I received a phone call from my brother’s wife. We rarely talk (though we enjoy it when we do) but only because neither of us reaches out very often. So as I am in this surreal place the Universe has nudged her to call me to work out a problem she was having with my brother and their oldest daughter. We talked for hours – it takes us a long time to run out of things to say and an ear to listen. The topic was exactly what I had received from the movie. We talked about conscious and subconscious motivations, family history, emotional and relational difficulties, and trying to make the present make sense and secure a good future.
And none of this would have happened as it did if I had not woken up with a pain in my knee that was causing me to lay in bed with my leg on a pillow and watching this movie, Cloud Atlas.
There are forces at work that we cannot perceive because we cannot help but limit ourselves mentally and emotionally to our box.
ps: it is now August 21, 2013, and I am happy to say that my friend has given up her suicide attempt.