Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Unheard Melodies

The past weekend, we watched the movie The Bridges of Madison County. For the very first time.

Yeah, I do have the distinct feeling of having spent the majority of my life under a rock. And as expected, the husband censured and lamented over Francesca’s “shocking” promiscuity and resignedly resorted to playing Angry Birds. I also surprised him by not entering into my usual "righteous" discussions on morality. Instead, I was weeping.

I wept for many reasons, but none of them has anything to do with the film resembling my life in any way. A cautious disclaimer ;). For seeing my tears, the husband was rattled and was rethinking his decision to leave me all by myself during his upcoming official trip. So, yeah, I cry because the world’s sorrow is my collective sorrow and all that.

I wept in appreciation of Meryl Streep’s performance - tears of awe and respect. Next, I wept that I was grown up enough to understand infidelity; to not judge or scorn it. I shocked myself by even empathizing. Anna Karenina did that to me. And now, this movie. Finally, I wept because the notion of romantic love is indeed fickle. The only sure way of preserving the fire of passion is to leave it stranded, and unattainable. Just the memory of not being able to attain it, elevates the romanticism and sustains the longing. As Keats said, “Heard Melodies Are Sweet, but Those Unheard Are Sweeter”.

As much as I long for peace and harmony, I see that our lives are indeed more interesting and fully lived when the horizon is always colored by some challenge, or smudged with some imminent uncertainty. Life in general, becomes more worth living because we then cling to a “purpose”- an idealistic one. We try to savor the best of what the present offers, focus on bigger elements, realize with clarity the most fundamental things that truly matter, and those million and one extraneous things which were previously picked on, but that don’t count in the harsh light of impermanence.

That said, I still strive for Happily-Ever-Afters. The more the challenge, the more tenuous the certainty, the more the idealism.


SecondSight said...

I can totally imagine the scene you describe, complete with Angry Birds :)
I loved the book and movie when I was younger, but somehow have little patience with it now. Perhaps a combination of reading too many of his books or finding out about his own life.. or perhaps I'm just disillusioned. I found it hard to reconcile how the 'romance' in the movie is different from a teenage crush, in several ways.. :)

Neeraja said...

Yeah, he was fuming ;). I haven't read the book and I'm sure had I read it when I was younger I wouldn't have liked it. I don't think this romance is any different from a teenage crush or infatuation - that is one of my not-so-nicely-expressed points ;). But it lingers and transcends the comfortable notion of love we settle into, because of its brief and abrupt trajectory. I think that's how we end up romanticizing everything in life :). If it is brief, unattainable, and cannot be experienced, it becomes special. And I liked the movie, just for Francesca realizing it and stating it in the end.

Karthik said...

I have neither read the book nor watched the movie, though I'm kind of aware of the storyline. I too am an idealist, naively so as my friends declare, but I agree that life is more interesting when there's a challenge on the horizon... :-)

Anonymous said...

Neeraja, there's something about this post, which is coming across very powerfully and assertively. Very nicely written. Love it!

As long as thinking 'unattainable, brief, stranded passion' as special doesn't make you value seemingly attainable and permanent love less, I think it should be fine :)