Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Love and Discovery of a Self We Never Knew

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought it timely that I sit down to watch, yet again, The Bridges of Madison County, starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. There is something deeply romantic about this film – and when I say “romantic” I mean in the best possible sense of the word: an awakening of the sensual being; a poignant reflection on the values one has lived by; an erotic stirring of a passion never known. Meryl Streep is in her early 40s, and although much younger than her cultured male co-star, she falls into the category of an “older” woman in that she embodies the beauty and strength of a person who has known and lived real love, without pretense, and who measures her actions against a moral compass held close to her heart.

Her husband gone on a trip, she sits down at the dining room table to hours of conversation and storytelling with her new male suitor, neither too cognizant of what is to come. They talk to one another (or, more accurately, listen to one another) in a way that is so often lost in the fast-paced world of technological development – they absorb eachother, allow for pauses, and indulge their innermost recesses. Observing them, their delight in one another and the feelings their faces betray is a distinctly soulful experience. When finally they surrender to the longing that consumes them, Meryl can be heard in a voice over: “I was acting like another woman -- yet I was more of myself than I ever had been before.”

Could it be possible that, as Thomas Moore puts it, we find we are most ourselves when we are furthest from the self we think we ought to be? At the very least, I think, a life worth living is blessed with at least one transformation of self – catalyzed by something or someone we didn’t expect, opening us to forgotten dreams and shades of character, and leaving us utterly heartbroken, alive and mad with love.


Jhanna Dawson said...

What a beautiful post and insights. The post itself is wonderfully romantic! Perfect for Valentine's day weekend. :0)


Jesse Mendes said...

Thank you Jhanna your comments always go straight to my heart. Happy Valentine's Day. Jesse

Jonathan Herbert said...

Time does not exist; change happens. With complete vulnerability comes a tower of strength. Transformation is eternal, and eternally visible to the vigilant lover.

Jesse Mendes said...

"With complete vulnerability comes a tower of strength." Indeed. I would add that in our greatest strength we find our greatest weakness; likewise, in our greatest weakness, we find our greatest strength.