Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Remain In The Day

One of my favorite films is "Remains Of The Day". It tells the bittersweet story of two servants in an upper-class British mansion who love each other, silently, for years but never express it in words to each other, not even years later when they meet again. I admire the work because of the intelligent script, the perfection with which Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson portray their characters, and the insight I never fail to gain by observing the immense difference between the British classes of that time. Even though I've watched the film numerous times, I always cry openly at its tragic ending.

I recently read an article about British actor, Bill Nighy, in which he talked about his recent role in "Pirate Radio" and an observation he made while doing that film. The observation had to do with retrospective insight. His words spoke to me. He quoted a line from the film about how people think when reminiscing : "Those were the days of my life." He countered with the notion, "These are the days of my life," going on to explain that he wasn't going to search the past, or the future, for clues about how to celebrate life. He said he planned to "remain in the day, and experience it fully."

"Remain in the day" - perfect advice, especially in these tormenting times of financial and personal unrest. The challenge is not in looking backward to better times, or in projecting gloom and doom for the future based on what might happen. If, instead, you "stay in the moment", applying all your energies to what you can do now, focusing on what is in your life at this moment that is positive, and taking that power and insight and using it to make today the most important time of all, it certainly seems to me the better use of your mental and physical talents.

The last scene in "Remains Of The Day" between Hopkins and Thompson is a silent farewell that borders, for the viewer, on agony. I want so much for one of them to say something or do something that will change the moment into one that will benefit them both. The title of the film is never more true than it is in that scene. I feel they both lose because they are focused too much on past convention and future uncertainty. It makes for a memorable cinema moment, yes, but I grieve for their loss.

I must admit I try but sometimes fail to live in the day myself. I want to, I know I'm more productive when I do, and I know those around me are happier when I do. But it's not something you just "do". It takes concentration and perseverence because it's easier to blame the past or to give up before you make the effort to try. I think I'm getter better at it and Nighy's words gave me a push to "get back in the game". I'll keep you posted on how I'm doing.

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