On slowing down, taking life in, and watching movie credits all the way to the end . . .
My mom and I are different in many ways, but as I get older, I’ve come to see how we’re actually quite similar. We are both stubborn, love nesting in our home spaces, take in books like oxygen, enjoy a good Christmas Carol movie marathon as well as a good NYPD Blue marathon, and in the theater, we both like to sit and watch movie credits, all the way to the end.
Growing up, this was something I did by default. My mom was the one taking me to the movies, so that’s what we did. But now, as an adult who hasn’t lived in the same city as my mom since 1992, I have seen lots of movies without her and could have decided otherwise. But as it turns out, I love to sit and watch those credits, too. And also, as it turns out, I haven’t found anyone other than my mom who really likes to do that with me on a regular basis.
Mostly, when I go to the movies with other people, they jump up as soon as the credits start running, anxious to go, and I often feel like I have to get up with them. Sometimes I explain that I like to watch the credits and there’s usually a head tilt, a reluctant “Okay,” and an “I’ll meet you in the lobby.” Then I sit there, but feel guilty I’m keeping someone waiting and force myself to get up before I’ve seen the soundtrack list, which usually comes at the end and is one of my favorite parts of the credits. My other favorite part, which doesn’t always happen and the uncertainty of which is particularly tantalizing, is the short bonus scene after the credits. Something extra-funny, something extra-interesting, something extra-special. Something extra.
Recently, when I talked to my mom about this, she said she thinks that if all of those people worked so hard on the movie, she wants to see their names. Also, she likes to see the variety of first and last names, and so do I.
Since it’s hard for me to let almost anything just be, of course I’ve been wondering about why this is for me. And I think it might be about something my mom and I also share, an appreciation of stillness. I forget this about my mom as I most often think of her up at the crack of dawn on weekends or weekdays, cooking, crafting, gardening, saving the world from dust, one switchplate at a time. But she’s actually also really good at stillness, like me. Good at sitting and watching, letting a sacred moment be. I’m so grateful to her for teaching me this.
At the Oregon coast over a month ago, I had a magical trip with two friends–one new, one old–and they also have the gift of stillness, the kind that engenders photos like the one I’m attaching here, the kind that takes time to notice the beauty in shadows and light and in the sharing of starfish.
Life can feel so rushed for me (maybe for you, too?), like it’s beeping and tweeting and clicking by without a chance for me to absorb it all. Our cell phones and computers encourage instant gratification, but a sort of gratification that might not actually gratify at all. That doesn’t gratify me, anyway. It’s not easy to do something different; as my book makes its way into the world and I do things I thought I’d never do, like starting a Twitter account, I’m well aware that slowing down is countercultural and challenging.
But I also think it’s crucial. It’s nourishing to body and mind and soul. As with staying and watching the credits, I’ve found that slowing down and savoring a moment also often elicits that bonus scene: a shooting star, a blue heron drifting by, an unexpected smile from that grumpy dude on the bus. And those are like gold, don’t you think?
So with this post, I am recommitting to unabashedly watching movie credits and shadows, to not pulling out my cell phone during any live conversation unless I need to do something like call 911, and to savoring this gift of life. It’s amazing, and I don’t want to miss anything.
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