Saturday, December 26, 2009

Making Concessions: Up In The Air

There are burdens we all bear, as good donkeys, to get to the bottom of the canyon, or wherever it is we're going. George Clooney raps about the straps of those burdens digging into your shoulders and makes one hell of a case for putting them down in Up In The Air.

I can't say that I've been a Clooney character. I'm not that cool and aloof, though I'd love to be. I have some friends and some family. I'm also a future participant in Hoarders, so all I could do was marvel at his lack of stuff. How do I do that? How do I go to there?

In other respects, though, I really feel his thing. I've dumped out the backpack of my life several times over, only putting back in what I could or wanted to carry, in the precise order that I wanted it. I keep it tight, people-wise. My friends and family are the ones I choose. I'm the dodgeball captain, and I've built an organization that, though not perfect, I can depend on to be how it is.

It's times where I cede that control - for family functions, mostly, holidays, weddings, funerals, etc. - that I feel like I'm on the edge of a seizure. I need that control because I can't find the fragile structure of happiness in others' systems.

This is how I live. This is who I am. I like my blinders, thanks.

Clooney takes his blinders off, stabbing into the dark at a family connection, upsetting his well-worn, well-oiled world. Maybe, he muses, he's not the cat he thought he was. Maybe these people with their lives, commitments and connections have something - know something - he doesn't.

His attempt to be in the middle of the road is his undoing. He's a ditch man. He doesn't play at it. He doesn't slum it on weekends. He's an outsider as much as the off-the-gridders in remote cabins, growing carrots and hunting squirrels.

Is it wrong to want to control one's situation? Our are lives so awful if they are not what others expect, but what we have built and planned for, daily, moment on moment?

I suppose a lot of people thrive in the hive, in that effervescent whoosh and random rumble of humanity, of openness. My heart sank into a boiling tar pit when Clooney decided to put down his own backpack of rules, regulations and Gold Club Cards, to chase after what he saw in the possibility of the traditional home.

What Clooney didn't see when he walked away from his itinerant lifestyle was that one burden is no different from any other. Just because you feel the straps digging in from one bag, doesn't mean another bag is any less heavy. There are always other bags. The only way to not carry a life with you is to leave life behind altogether.

I left the theater a little sad, but I'm feeling validated now that I've thought about it. Is the movie good? Yeah, I guess. I can't say I enjoyed it, but it did for me what Inglourious Basterds did some months ago. It made me think because it was thoughtful. It was honest.

Sometimes you need that in a movie, but sometimes you need Crank 2: High Voltage. Being in the midst of my own shaky world, at the old family home this Christmas, I could have used a bit more of the latter.

UITA is all about having dreams, goals and desires. It's about having a plan and a structure, but a structure that you desire, that you can be happy with. Dreams don't need to be grand. I have my dreams, and I'm a happy guy in my little world.

You can't shake off the clothes you were born in as much as you can't shake off the weight of the world. Whatever that world may be.

Dan Majesky is the big boss man of this corner of the internet. He has been devouring popular culture like it's going out of style, and then yelling at people about it, for thirty-one years. Now he's just typing it up and resting his voice.


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