Tragic Stories vs. Happy Endings

I recall watching the blissful film Amelie: I was so overjoyed by the film that I stepped outside and the weight of the ‘real’ world was crushing – I had been so deeply disillusioned by the film that I was unable to cope with even the minor irritations of daily life for a time.

Horrific stories for entertainment create the opposite problem: we hyper focus on others’ suffering to blunt or numb our own pain, or to shock ourselves from our own malaise – it’s exciting, but sadistic.  Be well aware, this includes daily news television programs and newspapers.

There’s a tendency in New Age circles to seek the bliss we are assured in Heaven, and it leads to a manic imbalance.  Of course we want happy stories to distract from our painful experience, but the more we seek the haze of fantasy, the less able we truly are to face inevitable pain and persevere.

It is in the fire that we are forged, our souls tempered to face the fear of abyss and annihilation that just precedes a full dissolution of ego/self leading to ultimate freedom.

What kind of stories do I like? Stories that reveal depth of consciousness, awareness of reality, aspiration to a greater ideal, compassion over villainy, heroes who forgive rather than destroy.  These stories are usually not clearly tragic or redeeming, but rather reveal with tenderness the bittersweet victories against our own weakness.

Ever see the film ‘Fight Club’? Most people can’t get past the apparent violence of the film, when in fact it’s a story about how we beat ourselves up, but in fact can use that momentous energy to transform ourselves and our world.

One of the many secret teachings of the film is that if we can’t face the horrible – either in ourselves [in identification with the characters] or our world [in the audiences’ relationship to the film] – we will never be able to truly find beauty and liberation – by loving the messed-up characters, or seeing the deeper messages of the film. A nearly perfect movie that addresses these questions quite directly.