3 January 2018
My husband and I watched Armageddon, one of those old action films that pictures Bruce Willis as hero. He’s a cranky oil driller who’s called upon by the US government to save the world from impending disaster in the form of a giant asteroid barreling at incredible speed toward earth. I don’t like movies that hinge on high tension. My husband knows that.
He told me, “Don’t worry honey. The white man is there to save us.”
Yes. Armageddon is one of those tales that projects an image of the Nation as like the film’s unlikely savior—raw, unrefined, hard working, devoted, honorable, and sacrificial. Messiah.
Perhaps such films would matter more if they proved that the country was aspiring to be those things. But they don’t.
This film is but one of a trillion examples of the way we project that which we hope others will believe about ourselves. Rather than an action flick, it should be considered a farce given the violence and destructive nature of our country with it’s weaponry and endless wars and guns and desire for walls. We are far more likely the harbinger of death, than the belly that bears the world’s salvation.
Stories like this one demonstrate our ability—and I’m not sure who the “our” here is but I suspect is a very BIG “our”—to hold contradictions in our minds. We have a tremendous capacity to tell stories about ourselves which are in blatant conflict with reality. And to accept those stories into our psyche.
I watch this film aware that the “our” here includes me.
My health—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—no longer seems able to tolerate such contradictions. I am rejecting them. Not righteously like a Saint committing herself to walking barefoot among the poor. But involuntarily like a patient with lupus whose white blood cells have turned on vital organs.
To cite the problem is one thing.
To identify a solution an entirely different thing.
So I begin by turning toward the thing that is most painful to me at the moment. Feeling it. Fingering the jagged edge of it. The pain comes when that thing impales me. From the outside. Forced inward.
I want to point and scream at the one who hurt me.
Then I stop and turn my gaze elsewhere. Toward a playback of security camera footage taken of me when I was not aware. And I watch myself. Not in the Hollywood version, but in the grainy night light of the alley.
I weep and wail at the me who hurt others.
In the movies, the film ends after passing through the editing room. I love editing film. That’s where stories are made.
Life is not Story.