Sunday, November 8, 2009

All About Steve, Life Is Not..

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Thomas Haden Church, Bradley Cooper
Movie rating: 5 stars (funny and entertaining)
Insights on Life rating : 5 stars (bullseye on crossword puzzles and empty spaces)

Life makes it hard for anybody who exceeds the boundaries of what society considers normal- too short, too tall, too heavy, too thin, too dumb, too dependent to be living with parents, too old not to be in a romantic relationship, too talkative, too smart. And so Mary (Sandra Bullock), who has the last 4 “toos” is being pushed around by people who supposedly care about her, like her boss, and her parents, back into where she should be, like everyone else. If she remains outside society’s white picket fence, she will continue to be laughed at, ridiculed even by children she tries to inspire. Unless she finds a solution quick, Mary knows that she will be trapped to her familiar life of lonely misery.

So what is the solution? In the movie, the instant answer is represented by Steve (Bradley Cooper). The ideal, normal gentleman who is good looking, funny, decent, employed and available. Steve on a blind date which Mary almost cancels, but does not. Certainly, this is it!

And what does Mary do when Steve comes along? Drop everything she believes in and attempt to finally solve the totality of life’s complex problems with one wrestler’s embrace. If “the one” solution runs away, then chase after it like there’s no tomorrow, even through tornadoes and across unfamiliar environments. Oh, and rationalize every little thing that happens as additional proofs which are part of the greater conspiracy of fate. Life suddenly becomes all about Steve.

Along the journey, life makes it as interesting as the evening telenovela by throwing in wolves in sheep’s clothing that give Mary advise that she wants to hear but really sidetracks her in a not-so-merry-go-round. Just to even things out, as she hitchhikes and gets abandoned through the confusion, she unexpectedly finds true friends too. While they are society’s outcasts like Mary, with interests in red boots and carved apples, they prove to be the only companions when all seems lost.

Mary is a great constructor of crossword puzzles. The job description requires that she knows how to spell and give meanings and clues that every normal human being can understand. And yet, she is too intelligent to speak with one on one for any prolonged period. Don’t dare misspell even on your rescue note as she cant help but correct you. And yes, Mary is too talkative even for a deaf girl. Later on she realizes that her passion to create the puzzles is her way of silently connecting to people who answer the artificially created problem. What in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs does a puzzle satisfy? The need to fill in empty spaces in our lives with answers in ink, not in pencil, and in full, not left half-answered.

While life is not fair, fortunately, this unfairness does not apply all the time. Not to Mary. And not to us. For some strange twist of fate, we find ourselves falling into dark spaces or jumping with no ropes into situations that allow our true character to surface and help us survive. In these defining moments, our abnormalities : too smart, too narcissistic, too ambitious, too deaf and too lonely, suddenly become assets instead of liabilities. Instead of being curses, these become life’s blessings.

If you don’t know it yet, we are all like Mary constantly searching for our Steve. Like the proverbial cat which kept on chasing its tail in circles, thinking that the tail represents happiness, we can only reach true happiness once we stop . And yet, all about Steve, life is not. Life really is all about Mary. Life is not a question to be answered, not a puzzle to be constructed or completely solved, not a mystery that needs understanding. What is life then? Hopefully, I will just be as lucky as Mary, and let life reveal itself to me. And just like a Chinese proverb, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Thanks Steve.
- Bong De Ungria  (also posted  in