Saturday, February 17, 2007

A little conjoined, a litte sunny

I watched two great movies this evening. The first was "Stuck on You," a movie about conjoined twins and their trials. It starred Greg Kinnear and Matt Damon. To me it is still a new release even though the copyright date says 2004. That's the kind of thing that happens when you leave the country for a year. It's a part of my time warp experience. It has some great humor and some pretty touching moments. I think what really makes the movie special is the behind the scenes footage that shows the two actors actually strapped together for hours on end. It brings home the point of the movie in a very real way to see how these actors lived as conjoined people for endless hours everyday for months.

The second one I saw was Little Miss Sunshine. It is one of those everybody-is-dysfunctional comedy/drama movies where you get to watch through your fingers as neuroses collide. Most of the movie is incredibly painful to get through, by design, which is what makes it such a good movie.

In one of those "clarity" moments towards the end, a young, awkward, teenage boy says, "Sometimes I just wish I could go to sleep till I was eighteen. Skip all this crap. High school and everything. Just skip it." That expresses perfectly how I felt in high school.

Fortunately his uncle, who is in the middle of his own life-wrecking crisis, offers a story about a French writer who was a "total loser." He couldn't keep a job, was gay and nobody loved him. He spent a tremendous amount of time writing a book that nobody read, but is "probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare." The writer, sitting upon his deathbed, looked back on his life and realized his years of suffering were the greatest years of his life because they helped form who is was. His years of happiness "were a total waste... didn't learn a thing."

Now, I don't think I am anywhere near my deathbed, but I can reflect on the short life I have led so far, and think back to the painful experiences I've had, and I can say without a doubt they formed me into the person I am today, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Certainly I can look at the struggles I experienced in Egypt and I can say it has altered my life in all sorts of positive ways. While everyone feels some awkwardness from high school, how many people spend a year in Egypt? My struggles there were fairly unique, which, in turn, has pushed me to a level of self confidence I've never experienced before.

So, now I say, "Struggles? Difficulties? Bring 'em on." They only help me realize my true potential.

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