If you know me, you will know that I absolutely love going to the movies. I love the smell of freshly popped popcorn. I love seeing whom else is in the theatre. But most of all, I love movies. I love the stories they tell. I love that in the movie theatre it is a communal story experience; you can hear others laugh, see them be shocked, or even wipe a small tear from their eye. Movies are a brilliant story telling medium that brings together visual, musical and even spoken elements in order to tell us a story. Movies capture our emotions, and they allow us to escape our current world and enter into a new one. For a few hours in the darkness of a movie theatre you can be in Middle Earth or Paris or a place where people break-out into song regularly.
I think movies, like any good story, have helped me understand my own life better.
The Park Cinema has it’s own story too. It opened in 1941, and since that time it has gone through a number of owners. Recently, the Park has been acquired by Cineplex, which is a big movie theatre company. When I lived near there it showed more art-house movies, and it still has a bit of that feel. Cineplex seems to be trying to put more of the artsy Hollywood films at the Park, which by the way, only has one screen. But artsy Hollywood is pretty different than art-house. But for the Park to survive, it has had to adapt. It has had to change with the times. If the Park only continued to show Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane,” and John Ford’s “How Green Was My Valley,” (both top films from 1941), then it would not still be a movie theatre now in 2013.
We have to move on. We have to adapt. We have to change.
Last month, my husband and I celebrated our nine-month wedding anniversary. We decided to go on a date. We went to Cambie Village and to Biercraft, a Belgium Beer restaurant, where we split dinner, dessert, and a sampler of 4 different beers. Then we went to see Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” which has at its center a man stuck in the past. Gatsby is nostalgic – no obsessed – with the Daisy, who is now a married woman. It was this fantastical re-telling of the great American novel that brought me back to the Park Cinema - back into a part of my own past.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about how often I get stuck in the past. But unlike Gatsby, I’m not really nostalgic for the past, I’m more haunted by it.
I get caught in a cycle of regret and hurt. In my mind, I try to figure out what I did wrong. How I could have done better, been better. And somehow I think that if I could figure it out, then maybe I wouldn’t make the same mistakes again. All the while living in my present, making new mistakes, including sometimes being just a shadow. Often I’m in a daze, and I hear my husband’s voice coming through, asking, “What are you thinking about?” And most of the time, I'm thinking about something that happened over a year ago.
It’s easy to get stuck in the past.
But through the love of my husband and close friends (like my former housemates in Connecticut), I have been able to let go recently. It’s not a perfect moving on, but it’s progress. It’s trying to let the past have it's proper place and not to be an almost idol. It's knowing God has brought me here for a reason, and I’m pretty sure that reason is not to constantly reflect on my past failures. I’m seeking to trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty and to know the finality of His forgiveness. And through God’s help I am beginning to plant roots here – to be real here – to be present here.
If you too get stuck in the past - be encouraged. You are not alone.