Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dancing Lessons From God, Part 8

The feeling of doing something drastic actually had started several weeks earlier when I went to a see a movie called “Good Will Hunting”. I originally went to see it because it took place in Boston. Little did I know that it would contain a scene which, without sounding overdramatic, would change how I looked at my life. In the film, Matt Damon plays a young genius named Will who was born in Boston. He had never experienced life but was arrogant because he was an expert on just about any subject you could think of. Robin Williams plays his psychiatrist and Williams’ character, Sean, is the exact opposite of Will. He’s not the smartest person but he has more life experience than just about anybody in the world. He’s a Viet Nam vet, whose wife had died of cancer and who had traveled the world. When Will arrogantly puts him down and demeans him, he first lashes out at him. However, after considering the situation he asks Will to meet him and lays the following speech on him:

Sean: You're just a kid, you don't have the faintest idea what you're talkin' about.
Will: Why thank you.
Sean: It's all right. You've never been out of Boston.
Will: Nope.
Sean: So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You're a tough kid. And I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you. You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you... I don't see an intelligent, confident man... I see a cocky, scared shitless kid.

That scene spoke to me so loudly that it was like a smack upside the head. It instantly dawned on me that I was Will. Minus the whole genius thing of course, but Will nonetheless. I thought I was hot shit because I had gone through four years of college and could hold a conversation on several different subjects, whether it was history, art, science, whatever. I seldom lost at trivial pursuit and usually answered most of the questions on Jeopardy! correctly. But, like Will, whatever knowledge I had was strictly from books. I had experienced nothing. I had studied Michelangelo in college but so what? I’d never seen the Sistine Chapel either. I was just like Will and I didn’t like it. I wanted to be like Sean. This realization had been festering inside me and it really hit home that night.

(Click HERE for Part IX)

1 comment:

Eric said...

Literally festering inside you, or 'metaphorically' festering?

needing to know.