In 2018, the film, The Shape of Water won the Oscar for best picture. For me, it was an intense film. It began innocuously enough, taking place in the 1950’s. A woman and her gay neighbor are living over a theater. She and another friend are cleaning ladies at a large government experimental facility. The military has captured an alien creature held under high security. The story unfolds from there, weaving in other stories creating a larger picture. The various perspectives are told through a sundry of character lenses–very effective storytelling.
WIthin the structure of the film, there were the “system” stories being told, i.e., the scientific system with its particular agenda, the military machine which includes its “Five Star Generals,” the systems of class, gender and more that I haven’t named. Operating within a system, say the military, there is a whole set of values–being a good soldier or civilian ‘soldier’ entails following orders, climbing the ranks, career achievements, showing one’s loyalty to the system, total devotion. This system has no tolerance of “failures.” Failing a mission, you are disposable.
Seeing this film, brought to mind how we each have a personal
story. Using our particular filters, we project our views onto the world. These stories continue to propel our lives. It is hard to step out of one’s own story to consider that what we have formulated as “the way that things are” is only our own individual story. Likely, the one that was handed down to us at birth and which we named “true.” We often bind ourselves to a story bouquet based on the fears, dreams, desires, flaws, etc. of our parents and ancestors. It is seemingly impossible to unravel and find a clean thread that is entirely yours. That’s probably not the goal anyway. What then?
It is difficult to see outside of a system (boxes) that we create as humans. There are layers of complexity in what we inherit and how we integrate (or don’t integrate) our experiences. I wonder if we stay in the same few boxes over the course of our lives or do we trade boxes? Aren’t we all bound by something?
Perhaps, over the course of our lives, we have experiences that take us out of those boxes. Do you? I have had such experiences on rare occasions.
What once upon a time are you and I living?