The Much-Publicized Movie
I love English period pieces, especially about class relationships, as well as the history of Europe between the world wars. Last weekend my daughter agreed to accompany me to see "Atonement", a much-publicized movie about the tragedy and prejudice of class struggle in pre-World War II England through a never-consumated romance.
I thought the acting was superb, the scenes powerfully shot, and yet I felt hollow after seeing it - and strangely fulfilled and affirmed. Signals enough for me to, per usual, check-in with my deeper reflective space as to what was going on.
Our Most Terrible Tragedy
I didn't have to wait long for a response. How much I identified with the central themes of this movie, which went far beyond its shattering title!
What hit me first is how we all experience the unfair, terrible tragedy of only getting a glimpse at best of what we want with all our heart and soul, and what seems available to us, only to have it shut down, snatched away, disappear or be ruthlessly destroyed by some uncaring at best - malevolent at worst - outside force.
Not to Be Set Right
Next was the typical acting-out, narcissistic behaviors of adolescence that carelessly, dramatically and ignorantly fuel tremendously cruel consequences to those the adolescent is closest to, who are absolutely innocent. Even one impulsive act, though, can so centrally ruin lives and be then regretted by this adolescent helplessly forever.
Now we come to the film's title - a not so often discussed aspect of coming of age, which is to have the horrible realization upon maturing that an impulsive, childish, histrionic, vengeful, self-centered act can produce evil results to beloved others - and that nothing can make it right. Everyone is stuck with the results, as if they were transported from a caring, ethical world into a living nightmare.
The Only Question to Ask Yourself
The truth of the matter is - who hasn't done this and lived to regret it? This is part of the normal developmental crisis of adolescence, which in this context plays out as follows: waste no time rushing to dish out the full thrust of your most intense emotional pain to those you're closest to - and don't waste a moment thinking about the real ramifications, otherwise known as consequences - so long as you feel, in just a brief moment, vindicated and unconsciously relieved.
Think before you speak . . . ask yourself just one question, To What End? Emotional pain doesn't go away if we feel driven beyond recognition to peel it off and attempt to stick it on someone else with some nonsensical rationalization as to exactly why we end up doing this, to ourselves and to the world.
The Shadow of the Wounded Ego
Shadows expressing a wounded ego may be sticky, alright, but there's nothing we can do to get it to stick to anyone else but us. Maybe it's really the end of the line of our conscience, no matter where, in a freaked-out, cowardly moment of transference fueled by fear, we stuff it.
Do we all as human beings go through a coming of age rite of passage way beyond adolescence, where we are meant to grow up enough to incorporate atonement in our lives as a central driving creative force? What would this unleashed force do to transform the world?
Set A Tone
I love the break-up of syllables of the core word, "At-one", or "A-tone". Unconditionally attentive listening as an objective observer allows us, in stepping back and paying full attention, to wholeheartedly and fully embrace our Great Spirit and the universal flow of the then free to be equally aligned humanity, which is a most compelling vibrational frequency to operate under.
It is a frequency which inspires, transcends, and extends our capacity to embrace opportunities to give and be fully present in loving, with ourselves and each other. We are here to support and trust, and together, move forward to a better future.
Self Develops, the World Can Breathe Again
The movie ends with that outcome, but makes sure to note that it is only imaginative, albeit reflecting the heartfelt wishes of She Who Lives to Regret and Atone Through the Rest of Her Permanently Marred Life that supports her becoming an acclaimed writer.
Consequences are consequences, and evolution does not, we understand as we come of age, guarantee us happily ever after endings. Suffering, though, as all great spiritual tranditions tell us, fuels greater conciousness and awe-inspiring creativity, not to mention a new honesty born of accepting responsibility as the cost of exercising personal power.
Perhaps that is the real secret to saving the world and ourselves "at-one" fell creative swoop. What an act of personal and global daring that would be!