December 1, 2005

10 Significant Things I Learned in 2005

The end of the year is always kind of exciting for me. I always look back at the previous twelve months and think, “Man, that was disappointing! But…well, I guess I learned a lot. And, y’know, maybe next year will be better.” So for the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing ten significant things I learned in 2005. Okay, I’m not sure there are actually ten of them. Around number 6, I’ll probably run out of things to say. But I’m a sucker for round numbers, so I’ll give it a try.

10) It’s right to exempt one’s family from normal standards of human decency. I don’t want to say who, but I’ve spent a good portion of the year being angry with a certain person in my family. (Don’t worry, Uncle Harpo, it’s not you; I’ve completely forgotten about the stolen baseball cards.) Let’s call this person X. And I don’t want to say what they’ve done, but let’s just say X has been rather mean to me. Well, I spent all year debating how I should respond to X.

I thought about standing up for my rights and telling X how I felt. But…I eventually realized that this wouldn’t do any good. X will be X and nothing I say or do will ever change that.

I also thought about avoiding X. (My preferred method for conflict resolution.) And for a while, this seemed like a good idea. But…

There’s a line from the 2003 documentary Stevie that contains a world of truth. Stevie is asked why he accompanies his sister on her trips to the fertility doctor, especially since the two don’t seem to get along very well. And he responds by saying, “Well, she’s the only damn family I got.” I think what he’s saying is basically that you stick by your family simply because they’re your family. You have obligations to them (like it or not) that you don’t have to most of the other people in your life (neighbors, coworkers, classmates).

It’s taken me several years, but I’ve finally come to accept (well, I’ve come to the place where I’m trying to accept) this truth. Though I may not always like being around X and being nice to X, I have no choice in the matter (morally speaking). X is part of my family and this is the only damn family I got.

So I realized that there was really only one option left: stick with X, be kind to X, and forgive X whenever X is being, well, Xish.

9) Bill Murray kinda screwed-up Lost in Translation. Yes, I realize this is a random and completely outdated thing to say, but, hey, I’ve thought about the film a lot over the year.

Perhaps a little history is in order. I loved the movie when I saw it in the theater. I was just swept away in its beauty and truth and could really relate to the characters and their hopelessness. Then I rented it when it came to DVD and still loved. Then I bought the DVD earlier this year and watched it a third time. And it was upon my third viewing that I became a bit troubled by something in it. It took me several months, but I finally realized what it was. Bill Murray’s character is too funny, too Billy Murrayish.

I’m not saying that the character needed to walk around depressed all the time. My problem isn’t even that he joked around too much. My problem is that the character was too good at being funny—remember, he was, not a comedian, but a has-been actor going through a midlife crisis. Murray would have done well to study Albert Brooks’ performance in Taxi Driver. Although Brooks was a comedian in real life, he strived to make his character in the movie funny, but not too funny. In other words, funny like your Uncle Bernie is when he’s had too much Manischewitz, but not as funny as, say, Bill Murray.

I still think Lost in Translation is a great film. Still my favorite of 2003. Just more flawed than I originally thought.

8) comming soon....

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