Last night my wife came home from her part-time job as a reference librarian so worn out, even her shushing action couldn't shush. During the week, she runs a library at an all-girls high school and is deeply adored. She took the extra job not so much for the money, but for the pleasure. The South Pasadena Public Library has a lot of use, and patrons need her help often, which she enjoys. Yesterday, though, people seemed to see her, then go to someone else.
Normally, she's incredibly easy-going and friendly, but for a few days, she's complained of feeling off-track, as if what she does isn't quite the right thing. She can't find the right set of rails.
Part of it is the time of year, when she remembers her mother, who passed away a few years ago, and she and her brother had no funeral, per her mother's request.There was no memorial of any sort, so it all felt to me lacking closure.
My wife's father, too, has been sick lately, and he's on the other side of the country in Savannah, Georgia. She receives e-mail from him daily, but she's feeling frustrated that he's so far away. Everything so overwhelmed her last night, she went to bed early, at 6:30, instead of our going out to a movie, as planned. I feel for her, yet I don't know what to say or do
I tend to be upbeat, which she says is hard when she feels sad. The more positive spin I put on things--I'm a half-glass-full sort of person--the more she pulls back. Thus, I tend to freeze up now when I sense she's sad.
An article in the Los Angeles Times the other day showed that happiness is contagious. If you know happy people, you tend to get happier. That doesn't seem to be true here, though. The article broke happiness down into spheres of influence. Happy spouses provide an 8% boost. Next-door neighbors who are happy make you 34% more likely to be happy. Maybe I should go grab my neighbor to come over. (To read the L.A. Times story, go to http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-sci-happy5-2008dec05,0,5449915.story).
It was because my wife went to bed early last night that I turned on the TV. During the hectic semester that's now coming to an end, I didn't have time to watch television, even if we pay for satellite service, so last night felt special, even if I had to watch alone. The Darjeeling Limited was just starting on HBO. It was total coincidence that I watched it.
The Darjeeling Limited is a movie with Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody, and Jason Schwartzmann as three brothers on a spiritual quest in India, taking a train called the Darjeeling Limited. It's not a comedy. It's a movie of another sort--hard to describe. It takes its own circular path in a fascinating way. It's as if you pop in on three people who don't know that they have a story. In watching it, all I knew early on is that these brothers haven't talked in a year, that they're on a trip of Francis's, the oldest brother's, making, and that Francis (Owen Wilson) has his head wrapped up in bandages.
Director Wes Anderson, known for his films Rushmore and The Royal Tannenbaums, does an interesting thing in his films. He withholds information, so as a viewer, you always have a set of "whys," making you participate in the story. In this film, you wonder why these brothers have been estranged, and later you discover that their father died a year earlier. You don't need anyone explaining that his death and their mother not coming to the funeral affected them deeply. You learn, too, that Francis was in a terrible motorcycle accident, and not necessarily a true accident.
To get a taste of what I'm talking about, you can see a short that Anderson made, a prequel called "Hotel Chevalier," which has Jason Schwartzmann's character meeting his girlfriend in a hotel room in Paris before The Darjeelling Limited starts. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1z1Nr2i364. His girlfriend is played by Natalie Portman.
In The Darjeeling Limited, the brothers do experience a spiritual journey but in a way they had not intended. They get kicked off the train. It's a journey for the viewer, too, if you go in with a little patience. It reflects, as one reviewer wrote, "the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of things in what can feel like a weird trip to nowhere."
The title to me suggests that this story, these characters, and all of us are limited--and it's okay to be limited.
I'd love to get that across to my wife.
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