Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Control and Contingencies Part 2


There is a movie called Leap Year, and I can’t recommend it because of a couple scenes that just aren’t beneficial for holding on to good morals.  But like some sort of hypocrite, I watch it occasionally.  It is thought-provoking, but then my brother says everything makes me think.  This in-control woman (whose control issues are a response to an out of control childhood) is tired of being disappointed and waiting on her boyfriend to propose.  They’re living together already, but she still dreams of commitment and forever-love.  So she decides to take advantage of an Irish tradition and propose to her boyfriend herself, on Leap Day, in Ireland where he is at a conference.  So she sets out to surprise him.

But there’s a detour of more than her travel plans.  Miss get-her-done responds to a series of difficult situations with great skill.  But when things keep going wrong, and she can’t do anything about it, she finds herself in need of being more reactionary but in a trusting way instead of a plan for every contingency sort of way.  This reveals some flaws in her relationship with her boyfriend, and also in her plan to deal with it.

Guiding her both geographically and psychologically is an Irish pub-owner with wounds and disappointments of his own, but with much more common sense.  He isn’t so good at trusting, either, but at least he knows it’s the way to go.  Sit down, pull out an apple, and wait.  There’s a castle near the bus stop.  Why not climb to the top?  You might have to put up with some rain, but the walk is worth it, right?

Being thrown together, forced to work together to accomplish their goals, the heroine and her guide start to fall for each other, despite her mission to propose.  (Yeah, it's another one of those movies.)  For one thing, the guide has confidence that if the boyfriend wanted to get married, he would have asked, and that rather than chasing him down and trapping an unwilling husband, the girl should reconsider entirely.  But they also start to reach out in totally selfless ways, taking interest in each others’ lives and motives.  There is realistic resistance, but a persistent direction towards understanding and friendship.

Near the end, the beautiful American doesn’t have to propose because her boyfriend asks her to marry him himself.  Mr. Irish Guide has his bit of disappointment, but he’s benefited from the experience, from the friendship, from being forced - through her - to think about his own choices in life.  In a way, he’d been holding out just as much as she had.  Things are not quite as happy for the heroine, who finds out that the proposal was brought on not by real desire to get married, but by social pressure from people selling them an apartment together.  She stands in the middle of her dream home and realizes that she has everything she wants and nothing she needs.  So she flees.  What makes a person leave everything they know and have dreamed of?

This time our heroine, who feels she has learned something but still hasn’t really learned, flies to Ireland pursuing another man.  In the middle of his pub, she confesses the way the time she spent with him changed her life, and invites him to “not make plans” with her, just to see where this “thing” goes.  But Irishman, common-sense, slightly cynical, guide-guy pub proprietor rejects her proposal.

It’s the kind of movie that could have ended unhappily and still been meaningful.  The filmmakers timed the scenes well so that I got to imagine such endings, the implications, and how I still feel satisfied, like there was a message that was useful anyway, experiences not wasted even if the end wasn’t happily ever after.

But she’s standing on a beautiful cliff on the coast of Ireland and he comes after her, and tells her he doesn’t want to not make plans; he wants to make plans.  And he gets down on one knee.  In the end it isn’t the having a dream that’s to be rejected – it’s an empty dream, a selfish and shallow life, that doesn’t deserve all that effort and pursuit.  Make plans to deal with contingencies together, with more to guide you than a destination. 

To God be all glory.

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