December 1, 2009

Love isn't perfect... just permanent

Months ago, we promised our kids that we would take them to see Where The Wild Things Are before Sam arrived. We've enjoyed reading Sendak's original to the kids over the years. And Karen O's song treatments for the soundtrack were charming and chilling simultaneously (and that's a great Arcade Fire song on the trailer too). Needless to say, we were all thrilled to go see the movie. We had some amazing conversations following the movie that I've been mulling over for awhile. Mostly, what my daughter boiled the film down to for me: love isn't perfect... just permanent. So, here's my thoughts:

This must be said, this isn't a "kids' movie." But it is still a masterpiece. And if you enjoy talking with your kids-helping them process what they've seen, it can be a good experience. Our kids loved it. I enjoyed the following conversation just as much if not more than the film.

For me, there was really only one scene that Jonze could have left out in order to make the film more approachable for the masses of children that he had to have known would watch the film in theaters and beyond. This aside, the film is visually stunning and the subject matter thought provoking.

I've overheard several people say that Jonze's interpretation has nothing to do with Sendak's book. I disagree. Considering the incredibly different formats, and the brief material Jonze was working off of, I was impressed. When Sendak published Where The Wild Things Are as a children's book back in 1963, children were to be seen but not heard. In many ways, his book said children can be unruly and noisy, but they are nonetheless beautiful people filled with hope and imagination; let them be heard.

What would such a social commentary be in the beginning of the 21st century? This was the question we talked long about between the four of us and our friends. What we came to was this, Jonze draws the lense back, and effectively the curtain, to look at the whole family, not just the kids. He makes the obvious, painfully obvious: our families/relationships are irreprably broken in the west and we tend to discard them with growing ease. I was reminded that most of the people that have been a part of the HH over the years grew up with divorced parents. As we talked, we surmised together that acknowledging the imperfection of our relationships didn't warrent how disposable they seem. In part, they should be celebrated for just that fact. Because we are still together forgiving, accepting and loving each other even though we make mistakes is what makes it worth it.

At one point in the conversation, someone (and I can't remember who it was there were several people sitting around our table discussing this) mentioned that love makes it perfect. Paige piped in loudly, "No, that's not the point! Love isn't perfect... it's just permanent." All of us adults just sat for a moment absorbing what she had so confidently said.

I'm pretty sure my daughter was right. What should be seen as beautiful about our families, our communities is not that they are perfect they never will be but that they are permanent. And that is what perfects them. When we think and behave like consumers we can demand what is perfect for us and discard things when they aren't. For a couple generations, we've thought that relationships worked this way too... and we thought our faith communities worked this way as well. But they don't. Love isn't about perfection in that immediate, consumer sense. It's about the distance it goes, it's permanence.

My father in law met me when I was 17, playing in a punk band and wanting to major in art... and had the hots for his daughter. A couple years later, my parents kicked me out of the house. He met me during a rough stage of my development. But he stuck by my side. He listened. He encouraged. And told me when to suck it up. We have little in common. He loves baseball. I don't. He likes to work on his PC. I use a Mac so I don't have to know how computers work. I love art. He calls it artsy fartsy. So, our relationship is far from "perfect." But it's sure as heck permanent. And he's proven that to me. And that's love.

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