December has been a whirlwind of emotions.
Despite having reached another milestone in my blogging, me and my family were faced with the news that my grandmother has died. Despite having had to attend the burial and spend a wonderful, wonderful time with cousins, aunts and uncles, we head back home and a day before Christmas, my parents picked the perfect timing to bicker and fight.
All is well that ends well, though.
The universe did not win.
Christmas might not have been that ‘fun’ but on my parent’s 20th wedding anniversary, incidentally also the day after Christmas, I got to meet my high school friends and my parents made up. In a span of 5 days, since Christmas eve, this whirlwind of emotions are all that encompassed our household. Yesterday, a family friend had her 50th birthday and we all went to celebrate with her. Much like the ending in the film, It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s easy to get swept away in this wave of feeling. However, it’s important to note what hasn’t changed for George Bailey (and me). EVERYTHING.
George’s: He still has to live in his old house; his business, despite being bailed out is still under threat from Henry Potter’s expansion.
Mine: My grandma is still dead and I will have to move on with and accept all the heartbreaks this year has thrown at me. Problems in the household? Still plenty. My pets are still giving me a hard time, laptop is still broken, a friend is still a friend, and I am still barely five feet tall.
But in a macroscopic sense, to say that trouble is still around the corner, isn’t enough.
Frank Capra’s film, despite originally being a post-war box office flop, has lessons that still ring true today. Contradictions, perspective and hope. Success is not mutually exclusive to an ordinary life, and adventure can be found in a domestic setting.
Adventure : I journey in my hometown
For someone like me, whose farthest travel from home yet, is a field trip to Cebu City, a southern city almost a day away from the city I live in, I can truly understand. I have seen friends travel all across the globe and travel all on their own, watched videos they post on social media, and listen to them recount their tales of ‘reaching their dream to travel abroad’ when we meet. And though most of my travels are with family and never really ‘alone’ (the closest me time I get is my time at the movies), my books and the things I’ve read still help me dream. One day, I’d travel… meaningful travel.
But for now, my adventure lies in the very place I inhabit.
My friend always said: It’s all a matter of ‘it‘.
Everything is a matter of perspective.
The film tells us this in a very ‘human’ way. When George saves his brother, he loses his hearing in one ear, when he warns his boss about a potential accident, he gets beaten, and when his father dies, he takes over it but loses his chance for travel. His every help toward his community ‘isolates’ him.
Like how my grandmother’s death has taught me, it seems kinda funny how death can bring people together when a lifetime of effort could not. Talks of, ‘see you in Christmas?’ or ones like ‘when will you come back?’ never get answered most of the time in the family, rarely in mine… if I must say. But death – the death of a person in the family calls (even compels) people to unite; a sudden reunion. Another awesome example would be the day she was buried.
Morning came. The ceremony started. I, the eldest grandchild, said my eulogy. My mother, the wife of the eldest child, said her thanks in behalf of the family for those who became a part of our grieving. Cemetery. Prayers. Songs. Flowers tossed. Balloons. Tears. Crying. Rain. That was how the day went. But come nighttime, you’d not think we had a very trying week at all. We (and I mean everyone) were all snuggled up on the floor, in grandma’s house. The older ones, parents and grandparents, watched as we, cousins, played cards. Laughter filled the air. It was mayhem. There were no tears. Just laughter. Lots and lots of it. Until midnight, we played. Until midnight, we laughed. Perspective, right? What did I tell you?
Hope: The never ending flame
The year is about to end and with it, new hope springs eternal for us all. The world shines with possibility and adventure. And yet the responsibilities of family and of the community nag, they call us back, they ask us – sacrifice. I will be graduating this year. My uncle will pass the licensure exam for teachers. I’m claiming it.
But much like the finial on George’s stairs, it shows that contradictions are never truly quite removed. There will always be an incompleteness to life. And yet still, hope is not naive.
The film showed us that a change of heart and perspective, far from powerless nostalgia in the face of an unusually divisive and a season full of emotions isn’t at all. And its message of hope and perspective is not so shallow as it seems.