May 30, 2011

Midnight in Paris explores a deeper sense of time.

I walked into the movie feeling blue and came out feeling uplifted and new! And isn’t that enough…

But I want to say more about this warm-hearted movie that was written and directed by Woody Allen and a deeper sense of time…

In Midnight in Paris the main character, Gil—played by Owen Wilson, gets a peek into the past. And as he does, he gets to see all of the most interesting people for him—a dream come true! It’s almost as if Gil wishes that he could just live his life in the past. This way he could just retreat into his writing life and avoid his unaddressed relationship problems.

The way I see it Gil is struggling with how to live in time. One way to avoid time is to try to live in the past, especially a sweet romanticized past like the one he conjures. But when he sees a friend go through a similar lusting for the past, he understands things differently. He sees (or maybe I saw for him) how it really separated this person from him. She was no longer available when she wanted to live in the past—a different past from the one that he fancied.

This is one aspect of the depth of time: going back. If the past is considered and embraced as a resource for the present we can experience time as having some depth.

There was a point when Owen Wilson’s character is answering a question about whether he and his fiancé, played by Rachel McAdams agreed on the big things in life, and he answered by saying something like: not really the big things, but they liked to eat some of the same things.

This is an example of seeing time in a shallow way: They enjoyed a meal. Or they enjoyed making love. But there was a problem for Gil because he was having trouble ignoring some of the stuff that didn’t jive with his sensibilities about life, like where they would live. This is a bigger thing, requiring a deeper sense of time including the future, another aspect of time, in depth.

Having a wide, inclusive view of time deepens our appreciation of this present time.
~Taigen Dan Leighton

I’m bringing in the words of my Zen dharma teacher here because I saw this movie as illustrating some of what I’m trying to learn about deep time. I would really like to be able to make better decisions in my life that include a deeper sense of time. In the past, I tended to get caught up in the delicious meal or the good sex without really seeing where things were going…

The pains which are yet to come can be and are to be avoided.
~Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translated by B.K.S. Iyengar

I like that this sutra seems to recommend that we do something to try to avoid future pain. It includes the future, deepening one’s sense of time… And how might we make these decisions that will avoid the pains that are yet to come?

I think that a firm foundation of the past, together with the right action in the present, as well as belief in a good future can build this: a good future, a healthy future, a happy future for ourselves and for future beings.

We can do it! And I hope that you enjoy the movie as much as I did!

* This article is lovingly offered from a deeper-time Yogic Muse *

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