Sunday, April 1, 2012

Code Yellow: Growing Up with the Savages


Wendy Savage: "He's writing on the walls with his shit, Jon.  Our Father.  Don't leave me alone with this."

Jon Savage: "I'm not leaving you alone.  I'm just hanging up.  We'll talk tomorrow."

Wendy Savage: "We don't even know where the man live anymore.  You want to know where he lives?  Sun City.  Have you ever heard of that?  Its in the middle of the desert somewhere.  We're gonna have to go out there and find him."

Jon Savage:  "Wendy, we are not gonna have to go out there and find him.  We are not in a Sam Shepard play."

Wendy Savage: "We have to do something.  This is a crisis."

Jon Savage: "Look I'm not actually sure this qualifies as a crisis.  Its an alarm, okay.  But its not a crisis.  Not yet."

Wendy Savage:  "You mean we're like in orange?"

Jon Savage: "What?  Yeah, right.  Exactly.  But we're only in yellow, okay.  So we should just be....aware and be...cautious.  When it hits red then we're in trouble."

In Tamara Jenkin's, The Savages (2007), Jon, a theater professor with illusions of producing a book about Bertolt Brecht, and Wendy, an aspiring but unsuccessful playwright, are siblings who have drifted apart but must reunite in order to care for their estranged father, Lenny.   As the brother and sister duo work to place their surviving parent in a retirement home, they each discover the other has yet to heal from the scars of their childhood: Jon cannot commit to his longtime relationship and Wendy only dates unavailable men.  As the film progresses, both characters are forced to finally face their own demons, finish growing up, and make peace with what their father was before he dies.  For personal reasons, I deeply enjoy The Savages, the dynamic between Wendy and Jon, the pain and humor that accompanies dysfunction, and the strength necessary to care for an ailing parent.  Perhaps because last week produced the death of one family member and this one may end with passing of another, I find myself once again considering the future and pondering the past.

If you don't want to be Isaac and Miria, you're dead inside.
In my opinion, when and how we "grow up" depends upon environment, personality, and Providence to some degree.  On many levels, like Frank Capra's George Bailey, I was "born old" or maybe I was "made old".  I dunno.  Responsibility, hard work, and obligation were concepts I grasped early on.  But when it came to developing emotional security, I remained an infant.  Precious intangibles such trust, self worth, and forgiveness eluded me.  Why that happened is unimportant at this point.  What matters is learning about them now.  Like Jon and Wendy, I work to evolve past my scars or at least cope with them.  Find some balance.  Hold another person's hand.  Become healthy enough to provide stability as well appreciate it.  The more I mature emotionally, the more I understand, life is not about avoiding cuts and bruises.  No, such a mentality is childish.  It assumes that I am free from fault.  That I never administer wounds.  Intentional or not, I do.  We all do.  Perhaps, what matters is choosing grace over nature.

Nice and Jacuzzi are good too though.*
Grace "doesn't try to please itself.  Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked.  Accepts insults and injuries," while Nature "only wants to please itself.  Gets other to please it too.  Likes to lord it over them.  To have its own way.  It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it.  And love is smiling through all things."  Tonight, I am too exhausted to think through the implications of those statements.  But I know this: While we can never be the ideals, we each choose whether we will hold onto one another or let go.  Whether we will have faith in each other or simply find fault.  Love is allowing anxious concern for someone else to outweigh the fear of being hurt.  That last part is the scariest and most difficult, at least for me.  Putting the "concern" into action is nothing short of terrifying.  But there it is.  Its been a long day, so for tonight, I'll say a pray for myself and someone I want to talk with, read for awhile, and remember we're still in a Code Yellow.  Not even Orange, yet.


*Round Heels is my new favorite description.

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