A Need to Learn to Live (Pt.1)
April 19, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Has anyone seen the film An Education? You should. It’s amazing. It also made me cry a little, think deeply about my relationships, and the way I live my life.
In other words, I have some thoughts that come straight from the cockles. So read more, friends. Read more. (And bring wine.)
The film, in brief, is about a smart, beautiful young girl (Jenny) who kinda wants to study to go to Oxford, yet also kinda wants to be with a charming, older, cultured man named David. David, see, he watches foreign films. He also goes to jazz clubs, and understands classical music. He also has two friends that smoke and hold cigarettes in fashionable ways.
Now, without spoiling the film, I can tell you that it does much more than present some artificial oohh look, it’s the school of HARD KNOCKS, guys type of message. It’s much, much deeper than that. In fact, it doesn’t present any immediate bifurcation for Jenny. After all, both paths can seem silly and wasteful. Both can have meaning. But eventually, a choice has to be made. And at times it means everything.
What struck me most about the film was the use of and implications of the word ‘death.’ Practically everyone in the film feels or acts like they’re dying, or already dead. Especially Jenny’s father. He’s a frightened, education-focused person who genuinely wants the best for his daughter. He just doesn’t get it. And neither does Jenny, really. The whole “do what makes you happy” thing doesn’t really apply when it’s some penumbral ideal. It all just falls flat when everything changes, when everything you know is something else entirely.
It’s heartbreaking. I’ve met people like this. They’ve given up on taking the risks they need to really live. They regret, and live their regrets day-to-day. The film hides none of this.
I think it’s really, truly possible for people to get older, and just feel dead inside because they made “the wrong choice” with their education. Or at least uncomfortable about it. I mean, I know I’m not happy with the fact that I went to college for 8 years rather than four. But it was my life. And I got to experience it.
I was talking about college recently to a friend. One of those simple “yep, college” kind of conversations. And then, out of the blue, she got quiet and remarked (almost in a whisper), “I never went to college.” I wanted to give her a high five. It didn’t occur to me — not immediately, anyway — that it could be some sort of shamed thin, or a regret. I thought about it, and realized that maybe I wouldn’t feel so great if I never went. Like maybe I’d miss out on something. College, though, is of course one of those things that’s not for everybody, yet pushed on everybody as normal, essential even. (Come to think of it, Facebook membership is annoyingly now one of those things. Anyway.) I kind of had forgotten that this was a “thing” for some people.
If I’ve uncovered anything from this mess, it’s this: never live your life as a means to an end. The beautiful, ever-changing journey is all we have; our destination is death. Let’s think thoughtfully about what we want out of our time. An Education was moving to me because it was a perfect reminder of this. It taught me, once again, to try and try to not be afraid. To take the risks we need to find out what we need.
But what about video games? You ask, now drunk on wine. Isn’t that Austin’s raison d’être or something?
Well, That is, I suppose, how I spend my time. Let us see in the next post. Maybe I’ve been wasting time. Perhaps it’s all a frivolous, childish waste. Or perhaps (hopefully, hopefully) video games can teach us something genuine. Something that can move us.
Or maybe we’ll just have to dream.