Do you ever feel like life is a movie? I do. But it's usually only when I am watching people around me, observing it as a bystander, an audience member, comfortable in my seat enjoying my treats, that I become enthralled by the magic of the moment that is life.
As I write this I am (almost creepily) sitting on my couch watching the house across the way become filled with life. Since we moved in, the house that backs up to ours has been vacant, with only an occasional person coming by to work on the yard or do paint touchups or get it ready to rent. Then tonight as I walked in the door from meeting up with new friends followed by uneventful grocery shopping, suddenly the empty house behind ours had sprung to life.
The lights were all on revealing the typical disarray of moving into any new space. A doodle (aka my new best friend) roamed around sniffing anything and everything to become familiar with its new home and likely stake its claim on future places to call its own. Meanwhile the family slowly shifted boxes with dazed looks in their eyes, reaching the point in a move where its better to be done sorting through the chaos for the time being and find a place to sit, if only for a couple of minutes.
Speaking of sitting, I saw one person attempt to finagle a makeshift barstool out of a couple plastic storage tubs. As soon as any weight was placed on them they teetered precariously and it was quickly discovered that the tubs as seats maybe weren't the best option for taking a break.
Slow, methodical laps keep happening around the small kitchen island, inevitably someone looking for that one misplaced something that is probably hidden under bubble wrap and cardboard boxes. Here and there people take quick bites of snacks and eventually realize that it might be a good idea to close a few of the blinds to deter people like me from looking in.
It can be both fun and annoying to discover a living space for the first time with its quirks and functions. From light switches to closets, water pressure and outlet locations and corners to bump and which rooms get a lot of light and others that could use a lamp...or five. In getting to know the space over time, the quirks and functions become second nature. If that first switch gets flipped it turns off the outlet, so be sure not to do that while you're in the middle of making a pot of coffee. Eventually that switch will likely get tape over it or a little reminder for guests to take note. But the other switch next to it? That's for the garbage disposal and the one next to that is for the back patio light. It doesn't make any sense at all, but over time the weirdness of accidentally turning on the garbage disposal when you just needed a little outdoor light becomes a part of the daily norm. Then there is the corner of the counter that juts out, leaving a bruise because of running into it just hard enough each time. It isn't until after numerous lessons of pain, the conscious avoidance of that spot turns to instinct, and eventually the grievance with that corner dissipates with the bruises, with time.
The rhythms of settling and familiarizing are a result of learning and living.
Watching the new neighbors incites a sense of awe in the simplicity of it all. There maybe isn't anything especially enticing about playing with light switches or finding a place to sit and rest weary feet, but somehow it all holds a bit of magic. Likely exhausted from the transition and relieved to have finally made it (apparently they've come from Colorado, according to my sources), their unpacking and organizing (happening out of necessity for them) carry with it a spark of wonder to those observing it unfold from the outside (being me, the creepy neighbor). They may see themselves just doing what they need to do as they move in. I see this as being the very essence of life telling a story; it's in the details.
Films often awaken people to the act of living, taking the day to day and presenting it from another angle, offering another perspective, suggesting a different meaning. Often in the moving outside of ourselves we find that much of what we are looking for can actually be found within ourselves. So much of the joy and the wholeness and the healing and the settledness and the satisfaction that I am seeking isn't something to be grasped or earned or stumbled upon. These things are available to me, as I sit on this couch writing these thoughts to share with you, right now. However, it requires an awakening and discovering that cannot happen instantaneously. Years of life around me have worn down or built up defenses in my heart, replacing rootedness and centeredness and passion with fear, complacency, mediocrity, and oblivion.
I'd fallen asleep, and only in the past couple of months have I begun to wake up and see things for what they are, as they are, in their beauty and in their pain. Good stories are never about things that are only good. There is struggle and vulnerability and loss and work, lots of hard work. This sets the story up to be riveting, to be transformational.
For a long time my external searching and my external blaming have left me with more questions and unhappiness. Now with so many things out of my control, unexpected, and to be honest, a little scary, I've been abruptly turned around to look at myself in the mirror and not just name what I see, but to pay attention and be present, almost as if to experience me for the first time in a long time. It's frightening and exhilarating, and isn't that just what movie magic is made of?