In February, I started my first job in over 3 years. I’m glad I’m working again, but it can be hard.
Last week, I decided to end a relationship with a friend after I came to the conclusion that communication had broken down and such a relationship was now doing me more harm than good. In short: Briefly, I became the kind of person I promised myself I would never be, and that cost me someone dear. I pray for her, wishing her the best. But I came to the conclusion that it is better for me if she not have such a prominent place in my life anymore.
My deadline for deciding whether or not to continue my college education is drawing near.
There has been at least one bright spot, though: I finished my first screenplay.
It’s a short film about how a young woman’s choice to go naked effects her search for meaning in her life after she returns home upon dropping out of college.
The point of the challenge is to write about how I “lived boundless” this week — to write about one example every week of me doing more than I thought I was capable of.
And, I really do hate to say it, but: Lately, my neighbor’s cat has been more boundless than me.
Since I used to have two dogs — they died after living long, happy lives — my neighbor’s calico cat — that hangs out around my house because I give her food — has, for the longest time, resisted actually coming into the house. She must still be able to smell the dogs. But, over the weeks she’s made progress.
Yesterday she jumped on my couch and stayed there for 10 minutes before running to the door and meow-ing to be let out.
The light is bad, but here she is:
I call her “Kiki,” thanks to Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989).
Because: Instead of delivering bread, Kiki the calico delivers “Aww!” Whenever I see her, I can’t help but go “Aww!” She always makes me do this:
To get back on subject:
This week, I do have something to be Boundless about:
I finished the screenplay for my short film.
There will, undeniably, be more edits as I show it to people more knowledgeable about screenwriting than I. But, I’ve hit a wall: I feel like I’ve done everything for this screenplay that I, with my current knowledge of writing, can do. Hence why I consider it “finished.”
Have you ever felt like that? You write, and write, and write, and you get to a point where you look at what you’ve written and think I’ve done everything I can.
For weeks, my life has been relatively unexciting.
Just been trying to get more used to my job stocking shelves, since it’s the first job I’ve had in over 3 years. (School, family obligations, and soul-searching kept me busy during that time.)
When I’m not working, I’ve been listening to the Life is Strange soundtrack while I try and think of more ideas for screenplays…
…and spending time with my best friend. We hang out more frequently now, which I’m glad for. In my quest for awesomeness, I don’t want to neglect relationships.
I have nothing against Ellen Page. I think she’s a good actress.
But: She seems to be the go-to woman when making movie-esque video games.
Which is why: I’m glad Life is Strange is blazing its own trail by — as far as I know — having a protagonist not based on a real person.
Choices That Matter
Whenever I heard this…
…a chill went down my spine. Even when (I thought) I’d made the most compassionate choice possible. I didn’t know how my choice could come back to haunt me. But it just might! Anything was possible when I saw that butterfly.
Not every action has consequences…
…but the ones that do caused existential panic.
Thank you, Life is Strange, for making me ask myself What am I doing with my life?
Living on the west coast, the fictional town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon, made me see my home in a new light, and appreciate it more.
As someone who is currently itching to put home in their rearview mirror and go out into the wide world…
…it did me good to realize that there is more to my home than I had previously thought.
Lately, just sitting back and listening to the Life is Strange soundtrack reminds me that, currently, I’m exactly where I need to be.
That’s another thing that’s great about Life is Strange: The chances the game gives Max — and, thus, you — to just stop, sit, and think.
There is a lot of grey in Life is Strange.
Choices that I thought were right, and made with the best of intentions, came back to haunt me.
Choices that I didn’t think much of at the time had consequences I didn’t imagine.
And characters who, at first glance, I thought I had all figured out, revealed sides to themselves that made me go “Wait. What?”
I believe in good and evil.
But good and evil isn’t always as easy to tell apart as black and white. And I’m glad that Life is Strange acknowledges that reality.
I’m glad that Max’s and Chloe’s relationship isn’t romantic.
Unless you allow it to be:
The reason I say that is: There is no shortage of stories about romantic love between two people. The first story that comes to mind is Titanic (1997).
And so I’m glad Life is Strange‘s story can revolve around a platonic — i.e., non-sexual –relationship between two people: Former best friends Max and Chloe.
Because: I feel like not a lot of love stories do that — explore love from a non-sexual perspective.
Near the end of Chapter 3, Chloe and Max get into a fight after a revelation about Chloe’s missing friend Rachel Amber.
I’m glad Life is Strange gave me the option to tell Chloe “Grow up. You’re not the only one with problems.”
This is why: I’ve run across a lot of people saying Chloe isn’t a good person. And such a view is justified. For example: Chloe asks Max to steal money from a fund for handicapped students so that she can pay off a debt to a drug dealer.
But the reason actions like that ultimately don’t bother me is: I don’t have to stand for it.
I can put my foot down and basically say “Chloe, you’re out of control.” Whether or not Chloe will listen to me is another matter. But at least I can make it crystal clear where I stand on her life choices.
Part of me is too scared to play through it again. At night, at least.
But another part of me wants to play it again purely for the sake of playing the Stranger Things theme as I navigate the endless hallway:
The more I listen to it, the more the Life is Strange soundtrack becomes one of my favorites.
Twists And Turns
“Predictable” is not the word I would to describe Life is Strange.
It’s the kind of story that made me think I’ve been playing for almost 4 hours, but this chapter isn’t going to finish itself!
It’s one of the few series I’ve binge-watched/played. (The others are: Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Eureka Seven.)
Chloe’s realization at the end of Chapter 5 is one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen.
0:00 — 3:26:
It’s one of the reasons that I don’t believe the world needs more “Christian movies”…
…the world just needs more goodness, truth, and beauty. No matter where that goodness, truth, and beauty comes from.
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
In Chapter 4 of Life is Strange, “Dark Room,” you are faced with a choice:
Euthanize, or refuse to euthanize, your best friend Chloe, who is dying from an injury that has left her paralyzed.
I know that Chloe’s intent isn’t malicious. Her parents are up to their eyes in debt paying her medical bills, only a miracle will cure her, and she’s slowly dying. And here you come, her best friend Max, back in her life after 5 years apart. You spend the day with Chloe and, despite everything that has happened to the both of you, it’s like no time has passed at all. And with that in mind — filled with memories of the happiest 24 hours of her life — Chloe wants to make the only choice that, because of her condition, she alone is capable of making: The choice to die.
All Chloe wants is to be at peace. And she believes death is the means to that end.
I looked up the Catholic Church’s teaching on euthanasia, to make the best choice that I could:
…an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded. ~Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 2277
A part of me hated reading those words.
All I wanted was to make Chloe happy. To show her that I was everything she wanted me to be.
I’m convinced the only reason I didn’t cry during this scene is because I was dehydrated — I’m better now: got a glass of water next to me as I write this — and I turned the volume down so that I wouldn’t hear how Chloe took my refusal to grant her request. I had subtitles on though.
I couldn’t kill Chloe.
Even though she hates me now, I thought, someday, somewhere, she’ll understand.
I thought that because: This wasn’t Chloe’s end. There was a miracle that could save her: Max’s time travel powers.
And that realization got me thinking about God…
God, like Max with her knowledge of alternate realities thanks to her powers, knows more than we do. Like Chloe, we say “This is the only way,” and God, like Max, sits in a chair at our bedside, wanting us to know that there is another way:
“I am going to help you, but not like that. You have to believe me, Chloe.”
This scene taught me about trust.
This scene reminded me that I don’t have all the answers. And it’s because of that, that there are times where I need to do what Chloe refused to do and put myself in the hands of one who only wants me to be happy, trusting that they see what I cannot.
Chloe’s desire for peace reminds me of one of Kate Marsh’s favorite Bible verses. Kate being another friend of Max’s who wanted to die. It’s this verse that finally convinced her to not jump:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~Matthew 11:28
On a humorous note:
After I refused to euthanize Chloe, I realized I was glad to refuse her for another reason:
What if the police charged Chloe’s parents, or Max, with her death?
After all: There is no evidence to prove that Chloe died because she wanted to.
All I could think of was Ron’s words to Brick:
“Lay low for awhile because you’re probably wanted for murder.”
Throughout the movie, Louise is subject to visions of Hannah at various stages of maturation ranging from infant to adolescent. Her memories begin as innocent moments playing with her in the back yard or having a chat at the lake but then they take a turn when Hannah develops cancer, gets sick, and eventually dies. All of these wonderful moments she has with her daughter develop Louise’s rationale for deciding to have her at the end of the film. But why? Why bring Hannah into existence knowing full well that she will become the victim of natural evil (i.e. cancer) and suffer and die at a young age?
…there are certain virtues that display themselves only as a specific response to evil; for example, the soldier that jumps on a grenade or the father who drowns in a flood to save his children. While the soldier and father’s death is tragic and a product of the evil that exists, their sacrifice would not exist were it not for the presence of evil acts. In other words, a world with no evil contains less virtue than a world with evil.
…the world He created, from beginning to end, is designed to show us the immeasurable glory that flourishes in the midst of pain and suffering, to show us what true love can do in the face of evil… ~How ‘Arrival’ Affirms a Christian Worldview
Reading these words last night, I was reminded of Illuvatar’s (God’s) words to the Ainur (angels) after Melkor’s (The Devil’s) failed rebellion in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion:
…no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.
Having recently re-played episode 1 of Life is Strange that week, I found myself thinking, too, of Syd Matter’s “Obstacles”:
Let’s say sunshine for everyone But as far as I can remember We’ve been migratory animals Living under changing weather
Someday we will foresee obstacles Through the blizzard, through the blizzard Today we will sell our uniform Live together, live together
What do this movie (Arrival), this book (The Silmarillion), and this song (“Obstacles”) have in common?
1) An awareness that our world is not as it should be — for example: an awareness that there is something profoundly wrong with a person dying so young — and 2) A hope that suffering is not in vain.
According to my Catholic faith:
We lived in a world where there was “sunshine for everyone” (Eden).
But, as a result of Adam’s and Eve’s sin…
…as far as we can remember we’ve been “migratory animals living under changing weather.” We’ve been cast out of Eden, and have been trying to find our way back ever since.
There will come a day where we will “foresee obstacles through the blizzard” — we will see what it is that prevents us from being our best self — a day where we will cast off our shackles — “sell our uniform” — and “live together.” There will come a day where we will be reunited with the one we love, able to face life with a kind of knowledge that we did not have before. To me, that state of being sounds like Heaven.
On a related note:
6:02 — 9:11:
My point with posting that video is:
Christopher Hitchens recognized that all is not as it should be — that our world is broken, and must be set right.
He recognized that it’s not enough to throw up one’s hands and say “Nothing really matters!”
He recognized that something did matter.
He recognized that injustice, like filth, needs to be washed away.
30 seconds in, and I thought This must be a parody of the trailer. Not the actual trailer.
But I was wrong. This is real.
I don’t know where to start…
The narration is the worst I’ve ever heard.
The dialogue is as subtle as a trainwreck.
The message — atheist converts after a deadly experience — has been done to death. (Pun intended.)
For example: Another Christian movie staring Kevin Sorbo as an atheist who converts: God’s Not Dead (2014):
And before you say “You’re just an atheist liberal,” as the name of my blog implies, I’m a Catholic, and my political views lean towards conservatism. My point is: I am the intended audience for this movie, andI hate it.
I hate it because it’s mediocre.
If excellence declares the glory of the Lord, as Psalm 19:1 attests, than Let There Be Light is not an angelic host singing, it is nails on a chalkboard.
Movies like Let There Be Light are why I believe that the world doesn’t need more “Christian movies.”
What the world needs, I believe, is just more stories that portray goodness, truth, or beauty no matter where that goodness, truth, or beauty comes from.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
~ Philippians 4:8
Because of Philippians 4:8, I have found much to think about in, for example, stories about lesbian lovers…
…friendly forest spirits…
…and killer aliens.
Watching the Let There Be Light trailer after experiencing the peace and beauty of Totoro’s realm…
…I felt like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation (1989):
Here was a movie (Let There Be Light) that promised to show me (a Catholic conservative) what I, on paper, should love.