Who We Are

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Who We Are

There are handfuls of inspirational gems liberally scattered throughout every scene of the new film, I Am Love.  They are free for the taking and I walked out of the theatre with my mind brimming over with gleaming jewels of orange and gold.  As I turn them over and over, this way and that, they continue to impart wisdom and beauty even now, days after I gathered them up off the screen.
 In the movie, the main character states that although she was born in Russia, when she moved to Italy, she “ceased to be Russian”.  Bestowed with a new name by her Italian husband, she could no longer even recall her given name and, with no one from her past remaining in her life, she simply forgot who she once was, an untenable state of being and one doomed to evanesce under her feet like beach sand.

I had occasion to think about that character quite a lot these past few days.  When some old friends lost everything in the Nashville floods of May, The Songwriter came up with the idea to put together a concert for them.  It was as though he lit a fire on a mountaintop, a blazing beacon that was seen and answered by the friends of our youth from their respective hideouts all over the country. This collection of sweetly familiar faces descended on Nashville this week, resulting in a reunion of people who had not been in the same room together in several decades.

Years melted away in the hot July sun to the soundtrack of laughter and memory. I heard my name rearranged to "Pammy", something that never happens except with these few people.  Looking in their eyes, I could see my own reflection, and was struck by the realization that the person I once was continues to accompany me even after all these years.
 I thought about that Russian character in the movie, lost to herself in Italy, and I understood empirically how important are those touchstones that beckon us to our former selves.  We all change and evolve, at least hopefully so - we wrinkle and soften, lose some and gain some - and the days flash by like a lightning strike.  It is immensely comforting to all do it together.  Aging leaves none of us behind; we are all sailing the same sea.  What a gift it is to stand in the light of an old friend's gaze and feel the wonder of stopping, even reversing, time - for at least a few days. 
A stopped clock that presents us with time to remember - time to know - that who we were remains who we are.

“Let it go my love my truest,
Let it sail on silver wings
Life’s a twinkling that’s for certain,
But it’s such a fine thing
There’s a gathering of spirits
There’s a festival of friends
And we’ll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.”

 From the song, A Gathering of Spirits, by Carrie Newcomer