This was posted a week ago for a day with comments put off until this re-posting—the writing gets into what that’s about. If you missed this post the first time around and want to participate in the comments section, you have time. This will be on the site a week or so before being archived.
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Much of getting clear about something and figuring out what to do about it involves reactivity. You stay vigilant to what’s going on in the world and what people are saying and writing about it and what is going on inside you—physical sensations and thoughts and memories and images in your head—and put words to what you make of all of that, and give it articulate meaning, get specific about its significance, what it implies for you, your goals and actions with regard to it and what you think it implies for people collectively.
This contrasts with uncritically taking in what others put in front of you—the media (movies and TV, etc.) and what politicians, journalists, professors, advocates, podcasters, and such insert into the public discourse—and go, “Yes, that sounds good” or “Nah” and leave it at that or offer an off-the-top remark to people around you or on social media or in comments sections in webzines like this one.
Especially if the second paragraph above characterizes you more than the first, I’d like to push up against that a little in this writing. This post is an invitation to respond in depth to something.
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I streamed a movie the other day that prompted responses in me that made a difference in how I see things, including myself, and that have stayed with me, and I think it might do the same for you. It’s “Shadowlands,” a 1993 British based-on-a-true-story drama about the mid-life relationship between the British Oxford and Cambridge academic and popular Christian theologian and writer C.S. Lewis—he’s best known for his children’s Narnia stories—and the Jewish-American poet Joy Davidson. The story takes place in Britain in the 1950s. It’s directed by the Brit David Attenborough and stars Anthony Hopkins as Lewis and Debra Winger as Davidson.
I found “Shadowlands” a superb film. Hopkins’ and Winger’s performances, wow. If nothing else comes out of the activity I’m going to suggest, you might see a good movie. But the big thing in this context, I think “Shadowlands’ is nutritious food for thought, so to speak, including about mortality, though I don’t want to go into themes or possible perspectives more than that because I don’t want to channel your engagement with the film. I’ll leave it that it seems to me that if you’re of the sort drawn to reading a publication like this one, there’s a lot for you to work with here.
You can stream “Shadowlands” on Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Apple TV, and I’m sure other places, and you can buy it inexpensively—you know where to go for that. You can watch it free as a YouTube, though the resolution isn’t very sharp on that print and I’m concerned that that will keep you distant from the reality of what is being depicted, including the breathtaking landscapes that dot the film; better to pay the $3.95, or whatever it is, rental and get the full measure of the “Shadowland” experience.
Here’s what I’m thinking: This post is only up for the day and no comments allowed. This same post will be up a week from now with the comments section open then. The time between now and next week will give you the chance to pay the dues required to comment—namely, to see the film and work with it so that your comment can go into some depth, offer more than the opinion spurt so prevalent in this text-and-social-media-conditioned age.
I realize you may not be up for either watching the film or giving over time to discerning what it prompted in you and sharing that, and that’s perfectly fine, you may well have better things to do with your time, but that’s the invitation. What’s behind making it is my hope that, in a small way, for some people, this exercise will move them toward becoming more of a participant in the meaning-making and public-dialogue-and-debate process rather than remaining essentially a recipient and yea-or-nay reactor to the pronouncements of others.
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So, if you’re up for it, watch “Shadowlands” over the next week and share the best of your thinking as a comment when it’s back on this site. Let’s say that what you give the rest of us is within the focus of this webzine, that you believe it will contribute positively to us, that you write at least one crafted paragraph, and that your response(s) to other commenters are of this same sort. I’ll respond to every comment that meets those criteria.
I hope this turns out to be an enjoyable and productive time for you. All I know for sure is that I was engaged by “Shadowlands” and respected it as a film and that it prompted thoughts and feelings that matter to me—I’ll get into some of them in the comments section next week—and that the idea of week-delayed, in-depth comments had enough weight for me to put energy today into writing up this post. But that’s me, you do you.
Perhaps you and I and some others will meet up here next week. In any case, have the best week you can in the one chance you’ll get to live it.