As I was walking out of the movie theater last night after watching the critically-acclaimed Lady Bird, I noticed how my sensory perception had become sharper. The objects in my field of vision were more luminescent and well-defined. My strut on the sidewalk was brisk and sprightly. The essence of the sutra Akasha — Lightness of Air seemed to be magnified within my being.
It's not the first time I've walked out of a movie feeling rejuvenated, inspired, enhanced. Since I was a young child, I've imbibed in motion pictures and let their magical effect linger in my consciousness as long as could be sustained. And as I continue to age and mature [well, actually, the maturation of my character is questionable, but the passage of time is pretty guaranteed], I wonder why it is that the silver screen consistently captures my attention and catalyzes some kind of alchemical reaction inside my body.
Speaking of capturing attention, the main character in Lady Bird, Christine, seeks counsel from a nun at her Catholic school, and at one point, the nun suggests to her: "Maybe attention and love are the same thing."
That struck me, like quite a few other poignant and witty moments in the story.
Our attention is a peculiar aspect of our personality. And what is attention but a kind of focused awareness that is controlled and directed by the intimate driver seated in the mind? If I give you my attention, I give you my full awareness, not dumbly or blindly, but with some level of care and investment. Deep down, we all crave to give and receive attention. And as we progress in the scheme of life, we demand higher qualities of attention to satisfy our desires of grasping, letting go, creating, identifying, merging, and so much more. Who doesn't desperately yearn for their awareness and attention to be saturated with scenery that fulfills the longings of the heart? Ultimately, we want our scenery to be sublime and meaningful, like a Hollywood happy ending that closes the loops in the plot and brings clarity to the mystery we've had to suffer though.
In Lady Bird, the scenery is simple, realistic, and suburban. There is nothing particularly glamorous or extravagant about the setting, nor is there meant to be. Most of the action takes place inside middle-class houses, school rooms, cars, parking lots, and other familiar fixtures of modern society. The characters themselves are easily believable for that same reason. They come across as genuine representations of real-life human beings. If I had to label the genre of the film, I would call it "indie", because it lacks much of the mainstream fanfare and exaggeration that big-budget projects often splatter upon the audience.
I find simplicity to be a fundamental place to fall back into. If I'm going to surrender, I want to fall into a net that catches me without the trappings of complexity. I certainly love the challenges and intricacies of living in a complex world, but at the end of the day, I want to be able to let go, to give up, to abandon any efforts to try to understand or piece together the vastness of The Puzzle.
Inner silence, stillness, peace, tranquility...these qualities of the Divine Personality seem to be safe foundations into which one can collapse. Within the realm of the quiet heart, the worries that come with advancing in the field of knowledge or personal development greatly diminish, and are proportionally shrunk as to become laughable.
Thank you for reading. Be still and flow.