On Monday I needed to kill some time. They were spraying our apartment for cockroaches and I had to stay out for a few hours. Unable to go home, I decided to go see a movie. I ended up choosing "Arrival" with Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. A review I read ahead of time said that it was "emotionally devastating". This was true. I cried.
I'm still thinking about it a few days later. Without going into detail about the film, I was affected by it's thoughts on human relationships. We have this dual joy and tragedy created by every interaction we have with another person or animal that we care about. First is the joy that comes from being together. To build a relationship with someone is to feel joy and comfort and companionship. The good moments in a friendship or marriage or other kinds of relationship are the kind of good that you don't find anywhere else in the world. I think that's where life is at its absolute best. And so the tragedy is the knowledge that every one of those relationships will end at some point with the death either of ourselves or of the other person.When we choose to operate in the moment, then our feelings about that relationship are tied to the state of that person at that time. But if we think about the relationship as a single unit encompassing both the joy of togetherness and the pain of separation, then every relationship becomes much more complex. It's not either joy or pain. It's a feeling in the moment, tempered by all the other feelings that go along with that relationship; hopes about the future, moments of tension in the past, feelings of anger, tender moments.
I tend to want a more pure emotional experience. Either let me be really happy or let me be really sad but don't try and mute things out by mixing feelings together. After watching this movie, I'm starting to rethink that. It's foolish to deny that we can anticipate a variety of experiences in a relationship. It's wiser to accept those variety of tones and use them to carry us through both highs and lows.