Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bev Versus the Volcano

WARNING: This post contains no boobs and no booze. I've been accused of "going all introspective and philosophical" on yo' asses, so be ye forewarned, and proceed at will!

(Happy, Kate? teehee)

One night when I was a teenager my parents had plans for the evening and I had the house to myself. This was a rare occurrence; my parents were the ultimate homebodies and didn't often stay out past 9 PM. I had no plans with my friends and was happy to have some alone time. Even then, I cherished a few hours of solitude and used those hours much the same way that I would use them now: by watching a movie and eating something crunchy and salty with a high fat content. Some things really don't ever change.

That night I had gone to the video rental store and picked up a movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan called Joe Versus The Volcano. I watched it all... and hated it. Really, really hated it. I thought it wasn't funny and was dull just plain stupid.

It wasn't until many years later that I watched the movie again and saw what the film makers were trying to achieve. Sure, it's ridiculous and the climactic scenes are completely absurd, but there is a much deeper and more poignant theme at work if you overlook the dumb stuff. There is symbolism - the recurring lightning bolt, the flower defying the odds by growing through the crack in the sidewalk only to be stepped upon by the masses, the brain cloud, the flickering and buzzing of the florescent light bulbs in Joe's office, the mixing of the cold, blue imagery of work with the warm reds of the tropics. The tropics themselves ultimately symbolize Joe's salvation. Even the fact that Meg Ryan portrays three separate but somehow interconnected characters is a commentary, of sorts.

What I never got before is the movie's message, and maybe I never saw it because I had not yet experienced the monotony of rising every morning and going to a job that is, quite literally, draining your soul. I couldn't know at age 16 that I too would someday discover that all of the body and head aches I feel while sitting at work will drop away like petals from a flower as I get in my car and drive away from the building. How could I know then that I would someday feel like I, too, have a brain cloud between the hours of 9-5?

One scene in particular stands out in my mind, in which Joe has his big epiphany. He is staring at the moon while stranded in the middle of the Pacific on a raft made out of his luggage, and he says, "I forgot how big it is."

Now, I know just what he meant. Every once in a while you find yourself looking at something in nature that makes you realize how huge it is, and how insignificant we are in comparison. You forget that there are planets, galaxies, and the unfathomable vastness of space out there. The day to day drudgery keeps us from seeing the forest for the trees, and if you're not careful it will bog you down to the point where you let your brain cloud overtake your life. You become a shoe-gazing pessimist who wallows in trouble and basks in misery.

I need to remember that my troubles are small and my joys are great. I need to be grateful for the love I've been given without questioning from where it comes or why. I need to remember that in the grand scheme of things, it is not about how much you get or do or achieve, it's about embodying and broadcasting love and gratitude. If you're not happy, change what's making you sad. If you're not fulfilled, find something that fills you to the brim. If you're complacent, do something that scares you.

I'm going to make a concerted effort to do just that, starting today. I promise.

Life is short, and maybe we are specks of cosmic dust on the shoe of a peasant in some other world, so grab some happiness and own your life.

So, you see, even silly movies can inspire deep(ish) thoughts. If you haven't seen it, give it a try, but don't come cryin' to the Bev when you think the whole orange soda thing is lame or don't laugh at the understated humor. I like it, I quote it, and I think I get it, but it's not for everyone.


Stuart said...

God, I totally love to get baked and watch shitty movies too, man.

Actually, your review almost makes me want to watch that now. I caught bits and pieces of it, but never saw the whole thing. Maybe I'll make it a Hanks two-fer (a Hankerin', HAR!) and follow it up with Volunteers, which I am ashamed to admit I really liked.

The Peach Tart said...

I liked that movie even though it was silly. I enjoyed reading your insights about life. Enjoy your week.

Brooklyn ML said...

I need to remember those things too. Thanks for the beautiful reminder. Love you.

Bev said...

Stuart - You don't have to be high to like it, but it doesn't hurt.

Oh, and I also like Volunteers, but it's not my favorite Hanks movie. That would be The Money Pit. Yeah, ya heard me.

TPT - Thank you! I hope you have a lovely week as well.

Maeghan - Aww, thanks girl! I love you, too. xoxo

Elliott said...

Damn braincloud. Think I should get a second opinion?

I think we talked about this, I just saw the movie this year and yes, you do need to feel the crushing reality of office life to get it. And really, three early-90's Meg Ryans? How could you go wrong?

Happy Monday.

Kate said...

WTF Bev???? Why are you going all introspective and philosophical on us?? Where are the boobs? And booze? I'm going to stop reading this blog if you make us sit in a circle and chant!! Don't think I won't!

On the other hand, you do have a very valid point. Almost all of the time we are in control of our lives and how we react to the situations we are in. Sometimes it just takes a little shift in perspective to make things completely different.

There better be boobs in the next post. Am I right? Cary? Frank??

MtnMama said...

(Kate scares me a little bit this morning. I almost want to post some boobs in my comment to calm her down!)

I saw JVV when it came out, and at the time, I got some of it. I've always been a big film buff, and love to analyze the literary theme.

I am with you, Bev. I'm working like mad to "change what's making [me] sad." I am never more in despair when I see someone who has just given up on ever trying to "own their life."

Big kiss. (omg! word verif = nolemons is that a tshirt or what? "No Lemons!")

Bev said...

Elliott, yes! It was our conversation on Friday that made me start thinking about JVV. I actually wrote most of this then, so thank you kindly!

Kate - LMAO and LOL! (heee)
I added a warning just for you. I hope you are happy.

OH, and don't you worry. I already decided this morning what tomorrow's post will be about, and you won't be disappointed. I'll be back to my immature and overtly-sexual ways in no time. Don't give up hope!

Now, take off your shoes so we can sing Kum By Ya, damn it! I hear Stuart brought some WEEEEEED.

MtnMama - Thank you! I knew I could count on you not to freak if I went deeper once in a while. Heh heh. I am with you 100% - working on changing what makes me unhappy (hellloooo, pilates) and concentrating on the good in life, not the bad. It used to come naturally to me - lately I've had to fake it.

PorkStar said...

Very, very nice post Bev. This is something related to what I was thinking about yesterday (Sunday) when I came to work. In the last week I simply don't remember getting out of my house but dying to get home in the evenings. Nothing in between, no nature, aside from the fact that NYC lacks any.

Marvelous post, Princess.

New England Girl said...

I have never even heard of this film! But, I love your commentary and all of the meaning you took from it. I need to remember all of those things, too, but in the day-to-day scheme, it gets tough sometimes! Maybe we can all remind each other. And if not, I hear bats come in handy for beating points into people. :) I might need that in the future! haha.

Kate said...

I'm not sure, but I MIGHT be having issues this morning. Maybe all of the changes in my life have got me a little topsy-turvy. Let's see--I am hugely pregnant with my 3rd child and 1st girl, trying to sell my house (without a realtor), moving from the neighborhood I grew up in across the country to Texas (a month after the baby is born), buying a new house, potty training Isaac and moving him into a big boy bed, etc. Not too much stress, huh? Sometimes I just need for things to stay the same.

Kate said...

And thanks for the disclaimer!

Bev said...

Porky - NYC has nature! I seem to recall a giant park in there somewhere, am I right. Oh, and it's not like you spent all last month traipsing about in Europe... oh yeah, it is exactly like that!

Thanks, dude. :)

NE Girl - Yes, let's remind each other of what's important whenever possible. Oh, and we're lucky girls b/c soon enough we'll have nature slapping us in the face with it's amazing-ness, am I right? LOVE Autumn in NE!

But if that doesn't work, yes... I've got my Louisville Slugger poised & ready.

Kate - Poor sweet Kate! I understand, my friend. We fear change. I promise not to be introspective again until you're settled and fetus-free, ok?

(smoothing hair) Shhhhh, it's ok.

MtnMama said...

Oh, and Bev, Happy Autumnal Equinox - although it is tomorrow - because you're ahead of me time zone wise ! I wanted to be sure and get that in. ;)

Stacie's Madness said...

this is deep.
i like deep.

are we still talking about your post?

Elliott said...

I'd blame it on something in the water, but since we live 1000 miles apart, I doubt it's that. My post today is in a similar vein, though I do have a stripper pic on my post...

JennyMac said...

This is quite comical. :)

Mala said...

Oh dear... another addition to my 'movies I've never seen' list. This is just getting shameful.

And I agree with all of what you say. Life is full of good things. VERY.GOOD.THINGS.

Can't wait for boobs tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

it's when you post shit like this that i want to move to new england and marry you. the boob stuff is nice, but introspective Bev is my favorite Bev! :)

i saw joe vs. the volcano when i was about 18 (i think). i *kind of* received the message back then, but would definintely get it now. i should watch it again. and i totally agree with Elliott re: the meg ryan of the early nineties. now, however meg is starting to resemble the cat lady of NYC.

ever since i was a young kid - around 5yrs old - i've had that sense of "i forgot how big it is." i remember lying on my back in my driveway at night looking up at the stars thinking, "what if there was no universe? no planet earth? no family? no ME?"

WV = wersom. this comment is a little wersom.

Anonymous said...

also, Boink Me for missing out on your F, Marry, Kill post on friday. good one! :)

Cary said...

What an awesome post, B. You are such a gifted writer.

Loved it. Totally worth the lack of boobage.

Bev said...

MtnMama - Thank you! You know this is my favorite time of year. Best weather, hands down... I just don't wanna think about what's coming next. (winter is not my bag, baby)

Stacie - whoa man, like... I like deep... but right now I'm hungry. Gotta run!

Elliott - You big faker! Your stripper is Chris Farley & you know it! Not that he isn't dreamy....

JennyMac - thanks, and thanks for stopping by!

Mala - that reminds me, I need to stop by with my camera later. Wear something push-up-y, ok?

Anon - Thank you! *sniff sniff* You get me, you really get me! And yeah, Meg really screwed up her face. She's like Kenny Rogers bad, right? Barely recognizable!

I wondered where you were for B-S-M on Friday! Next time I'll email you to let you know not to miss it. ;)

Cary - thank you so much! Coming from you, that is an incredible compliment. I'm blushing!!

Elliott said...

I didn't say it was a GOOD stripper pic...if I'm looking to make a career change, I need people to have realistic expectations of me. Otherwise I would have posted Swayze.

Kate said...

Feeling much better now that my hair's been stroked. Thanks.

Word verf: mytousi

Mytousi will feel a lot better once this baby gets the hell out of my womb.

onebadmamajama said...

Seems like I tried to watch JVV and didn't get it. Looks like I need to go give it another try, even though I don't have an "office" to go to..I can still relate to absofuckin'lutely hating the job I'm in. I'm working on that too. Have you ever noticed has easy and quickly just a couple of rotten or poorly thought out decisions can totatlly get you off the path you want to be on?

Great post:)

Cary said...

You're welcome, Princess.

Bev said...

Elliott - way to keep it real!

Kate - I'd offer to stroke your tousi too, but I don't swing that way.

OBMJ - I know, girl, your job sucks way worse than mine so I need to STFU. At least I only have to clean up verbal crap, not literal crap. ((hugs)) Here's to both of us movin' on to better things ASAP!

Cary - Heh heh. Thx.

outdoor wedding venues said...

This Sunday I am going to see this movie. I have not see it before. Its nice to read you view about this movie.