Cross-posted at Immizen.com by fellow blogger diversity_usa.
On Saturday evening, I saw the 5 Academy Award Nominated Live Action Short-Films from these years Oscars at a special viewing at the Miami Beach Cinematheque in the Historic City Hall of Miami Beach. After seeing the films I kept thinking about that one theme that permeated all 5 films.
And I kept coming back to the American film, “Curfew”, which I did not want to like because (a) American independent films are always about dysfunctional people in a relatively functioning environment and society (compared to e.g. Kabul Afghanistan, Mogadishu Somalia; locations where two other films were filmed) and (b) I am sick of the glorification of human dysfunction in films, e.g. “Silver Linings Playbook”, and (c) I would like to give recognition to other countries for showing greatness in filmmaking.
As it so happened, the American film reluctantly got most of my attention and admiration. And as it so happened, it won the Oscar. The theme “A Reason to live” is the main topic of the American film but it was a recurring theme shared by all 5 films and is the topic of this article. It was most obvious in the American film, where in the first few seconds we see a young man attempting to commit suicide. Perhaps, the film “Death Of A Shadow” had as its theme “a reason to die” but the death here is in fact “a reason to live” another life (without revealing much more).
My thoughts of course turned to my own life and that of the people I know. I remembered reading about the Blue Zones project that identifies communities of people around the world who live to 100. The project identifies the common denominators among all of them, one of those being: “having a purpose in life”.
The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.And I remembered my own “reasons to wake up in the morning”. The first one is my daughter, of course, and I am blessed with a wonderful, smart, funny and loving teenager (yes, I said “teenager”). It also reminded me that many of my divorced parent friends, especially some American dads who used to see their marriage and family as their reason to live, now have shifted their attention to devoting themselves exclusively to their kids and make them their reason to live. That is not my case and some of these friends have made me question if it is correct to enjoy other things in life that do not involve my daughter, if it is fine to not mind the idea of an empty nest. I know my daughter needs me and the time I spend with her is the best investment of my time. I am focused on helping her become the best person she can be, but I also try to find time to do other activities with my “adult” friends and I discuss with my daughter why these other activities are important to me, why they are another reason to live for. Every time my daughter and I do an activity together with other friends, adults and kids, it brings us closer together because we realize what a great mom and daughter team we are. Yet, I still have other reasons to live.
And among those other reasons to live, there is politics, of course! My friends say they hate politics, because it is dirty and corrupt, and they say that, after much rhetoric, nothing ever gets done. But I disagree, I’ve lived in enough places and countries that I know that with perseverance and small incremental steps, good things can happen, and that it is important to be involved and fight for those small steps forward. It is something that I am passionate about and that I enjoy doing, even when I have to argue with a Republican once in a while (as long as (s)he is not a Tea Party fanatic…)
And there are of course many other smaller reasons to live, such as books, movies, art, nature, fun sporty activities like bicycle riding, meeting new people, visiting new places, eating new types of foods, learning new cultures and languages, and so many more.
And perhaps another reason to live for is to make sure that I am taking advantage of everything that is out there for me to enjoy and learn, especially to learn. I love working on myself and becoming a better person, even if I will probably never get there, because, you know, we humans are simply not perfect. But just trying to explore a higher degree of consciousness, and knowledge, and challenging myself to adopt a new mindset, things that I know for a fact will make me a better person (so why not try?), well, that is another reason to live for.
And because one of my "reasons to live" is to find answers to the myriad of questions that circulate in my mind, I have one question to ask you:
What are your reasons to live?