Monday, December 26, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

I was watching It's a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart; a Christmas Classic and like all good movies should, it made me think. I began thinking during the part where Mr. Potter offers George Bailey a job, and is basically describing him as this noble person, who is finally going to get what's coming to him, so long as he makes this seemingly shrewd career move.
Mr. Potter was lying, but he was doing it with as much truth as possible. The best liars do that. They stick very close to the truth so as to not get caught in any loopholes, and play to the sensitivities of those they deceive.
George Bailey was in fact this ridiculously good person. Time and time again through out his life he came to a point where he had to make a choice between his dreams and the people who needed him and chose the latter. He never got to do what he wanted, which was to travel, see the world, be independent, and build sky scrapers. (I could never figure out of the sky scrapers were literal or metaphorical.) During emercencies he was quick to act without thinking, like saving his brother from drowning or keeping his head when the stock market crashed. He wasn't a perfect person by any means. More often than not he did the right thing begrudgingly, and was awfully eager at first to take that job with Mr. Potter knowing he'd be making ten times what he had been making at the Building and Loan. But in any case George Bailey was a good person and still his world came crashing down around him. Realizing that he was worth more dead than alive he wanted to kill himself.
The reason why it's such a beautiful movie to us is of course because none of us get to reach for our dreams all the time so we relate to George and we all want to think that life would suck for the world without us and that if we ever got to the point of wanting to kill ourselves, an entire town would give us their spare cash as well as a rich friend from high school in Europe and all of our problems would be solved in one chorus of Auld Lange Syne.
The movie ends, and we all feel warm and fuzzy inside as the season of holidays demands but its not long before we remember that life still sucks and we begin to question time and time again why the heck the world doesn't come through for us the way that it should.
But let me ask you something very important.
When was the last time you came through for the world?
We all do nice things for other people once in a while, but when is the last time we genuinly lived for other people; when every decision we made was for the benefit of others' but not ourselves?
George Bailey had built such a network of relationships around him with his good deeds that not even the richest man in all of Bedford Falls could ruin his life. We don't do that. In fact the reason why there are so many pessimists in the world is because we happen to believe this lie that we are all George Bailey and the world should come to save us and when it doesn't we think "Well, I guess this is a mediocre life."
It is not so an exaggerated attitude of self-entitlement that we carry but the truth is if we don't put our everything into existence then how can we expect an everything return?
So I'm laying in bed, post-feel good flick, and thinking about the parts of my life that are less than satisfying and wondering why things that I have no control over don't just work out for me. And finally I realize that first of all, I shouldn't be feeling so self-entitled, and second of all, where is my trust? If I were to actually examine my life I realize that the things I want to be different that I have no control over I still for some reason try to control instead of letting God take care of it. And yet I still expect everything to turn out all right? Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. (Star Wars: For the Win.) I fear my lack of control, I get frustrated at how life doesn't turn out and I end up miserable thinking "I do so much and get nothing out of it."
I'm not George Bailey, and this is not Bedford Falls.
So next time you want to bang your head against the wall because that part of your life you've spend so much time trying to tweak is falling all apart again think of this.
The world isn't going to pull through for someone who doesn't pull through for others. You can't control this, you can only control your compassion. When we all share, there is enough. When we give of ourselves, those things we have no control over will fall into place anyway. In this life no person can wash their own hands.
It isn't karma, it's trusting God, and doing what he's asked a million times, instead of fussing over the details that don't matter.
I'm going to go ahead and post this now, but for the record, this whole Jimmy Stewart related epiphany seemed a lot deeper in my head. But now that I type it I think, "Duh, Sara...duh..."

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