First, I’d like to announce a big change. If you’ll look to the left, I’ve done away with that big long list of previous posts and condensed them into links of pages based on month. You can find the menu under the Jukebox link. I think it looks a lot cleaner this way, but I hope it won’t deter anyone from perusing them. But anyway, on to your irregularly scheduled post!
A while back I watched Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World with a good friend of mine, and she pointed out that there were some parallels between Scott Pilgrim and the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. That was the first time I had seen Scott Pilgrim and it made me want to read the graphic novels, and my friend’s comment made me want to watch Eternal Sunshine. Well, yesterday we finally got around to it. It was worth the anticipation. Boy, what a good movie! For those of you who haven’t seen it, go find it and watch it.
So, my friend and I watched Eternal Sunshine with some other friends from church. If you haven’t seen the movie, the premise is that Jim Carrey’s character undergoes a process to have his memories erased of an ex-girlfriend who had the procedure done on herself to forget him (Don’t worry, this is all on the back cover of the DVD, so I’m not spoiling anything for you). Anyway, as I was getting ready to go home after the movie was over, our one friend quipped that he wished he could have that process done to forget his ex-girlfriend. I replied that I wouldn’t because despite how heartbreaking my last relationship was, at lot of personal growth came out of the ashes of that relationship, and if I forgot her and the relationship I wouldn’t have learned anything from it.
The beautiful thing about Eternal Sunshine was that it put two very imperfect people who were polar opposites of each other into a relationship. Carrey’s character is a tight-lipped, cautious neurotic who falls in love with Kate Winslet’s character who is a happy-go-lucky, impulsive rebel. Because they’re so imperfect they’re both at fault for the relationship falling apart, but it’s also the reason they were able to stay together.
I talked about my last relationship in my post “Schism,” and how it left me utterly destroyed. It laid me bare in more ways than just the ways that my ex-girlfriend hurt me. It showed me where I was wrong and where I was right. It showed me what love was and wasn’t. It showed me what healthy and unhealthy is. It showed me so many things retrospectively.
But it also left me with plenty of scars. It left me questioning if I’ll ever be able to have a successful, intimate, romantic relationship ever again. It left me with a constant doubt that any girl will actually stick around; I have a nagging doubt that those kinds of relationships aren’t built to last because she will leave eventually. I’m skeptical of her friends and family, and whether or not they’ll actually accept me and love me or just give me a cold shoulder again. I’m reluctant to try and trust again, lest I go through something similar again.
However, that’s anxiety and fear speaking. Anxiety takes a traumatic or potentially traumatic situation and attempts to rationally validate an irrational fear. I’ve learned in the few years since that terrible relationship these anxious thoughts are wrong thinking; one relationship and experience does not dictate all of the others. Not every woman is the girl who broke my heart. My future is no longer dictated by my past. That’s the beautiful thing about a relationship with Jesus, is that my past is gone; it makes me a new person so that I can start again.
Eternal Sunshine taught me something else. It taught me that while I wouldn’t want to wipe my memories of my ex-girlfriend, I actually did choose to forget. I chose to forget the good things and the fun times that I shared with her. There’s a scene in the movie where Carrey and Winslet lay on an icy river, and there was a time where I laid on an icy lake in the same way. I forgot about that time and many others. Those memories had been buried in the avalanche that was our break up. Remembering those good times is a double-edged sword. They can be a comfort as they remind you that there were good times, but it can also magnify the shadow cast by the bad times, so I’m not really sure what to do with that.
I think that’s the reason I like stories like the Eternal Sunshine, Scott Pilgrim, or Forrest Gump, or Big Fish. For one, they tickle the inner romantic buried deep down, but they also let us escape the reality that relationships don’t always work out. There isn’t always a happy ending. I don’t pine after my old girlfriend, I don’t love her, I never did nor will want her back, and I’m not sure what I’d do if I ever met her again.
This life is built around relationships, and relationships are messy things. If you run from them you won’t be much of a person in the end. If you stay, you’ll get hurt, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Even the worst heartbreak is worth it in the end.
I wrote that in a post entitled “…I and love and you,” and I used it again in “Schism.” Well, here it is again, as applicable as ever.
I was going to put a link to a trailer for Forrest Gump, but they all seem ridiculously long, and if you don’t know about Forrest Gump… Well, seriously, where ya been?
My post “…I and love and you”
My post “Schism”