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Monthly Archives: January 2012

It’s About the Story, So Don’t Judge Me

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In which I enjoy some “Joyful Noise,” and shush the uppity hipster critics…..

A predictable movie, well-done, is our version of legend, of powerful folktale told round the fire by tribal elder, myth passed down through generations, or epic saga recited in court by the wise, old royal storyteller. We human beings have an inherent love of story, a need to connect with each other through narrative, through “Once upon a time”, and “….happily ever after.” Even the most esoteric human truth can resonate in our minds if told through the emotional craft of story. It’s how our ancestors taught each other the best hunting tactics, or the best ways to choose a mate, or connect with their spiritual lives.

Few amongst you would derisively dismiss the collected tales of a foreign culture, or mock the stories of a primitive people group. But bring up a predictable movie with a plot that bookies won’t take bets on, and stand back. Here comes the sarcasm. Oh, it is so easy to judge. Especially if you fancy yourself an intellectual, or a hipster, or an intellectual hipster. But I stand among you blog among you today to claim that IT IS NOT SO, that a movie well-done can reunite us with our most powerful human narratives in a way that is both delightful and comforting.

That’s right, I said it. I love romantic comedies. I love musical theater. I even love sports movies featuring underdogs who triumph against all odds and win the game in the final moment.

And yes, in fact, I did recently enjoy the movie “Joyful Noise” with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton.

You wanna go get you some upscale culture, fine. Go see “American Beauty”, or “Up In the Air”, or “Sideways”.  Perhaps you will leave the theater better off in some way I never did. I find that with the approach of middle age – still in the distance, mind you, I’m not close, it’s WAY off in the distance – I am less interested in the Important Movie, and more interested in what will make me laugh, or cry, or sigh contentedly. Or, on a special day, make me angry or sad or frustrated or motivated.

Me? I’ll go see “Joyful Noise”, and grin the entire time. The. Entire. Time. I’ll  savor the contest between outwardly different rivals, competing to lead their underdog group to victory, based on their deeply held convictions, rockin’ good voices, and contagious choreography.

Because you know what? I’ve got plenty of Serious in my life, plenty of Scary Reality, and honestly, even a fine helping of Mysterious Human Evil in the situations in which I live in day in and day out.

So quite frankly, I prefer to watch Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton trade barbs, and compete for the choir master position in their church, and try to prevent the young people in their lives from striving towards a relationship with each other when they ought to know their families don’t care for each other. ( SEE!??? Romeo and Juliet, eternal human story…..)

I want to bounce and sway in my seat to some excellent southern gospel (and gospelly pop music, and pop-y hip-hop-ity gospel), and laugh as Dolly makes jokes about her plastic surgery, and I even want to be satisfied that every single plot twist happens exactly as I predicted it would ten  minutes earlier in the movie. I LOVE THAT.

And you know what? I could go a very, very, very long time before I watch another movie with an unsatisfying vague ending, an unjustified sad ending, or any movie in which no one in the film is anyone with whom I’d remotely want  to ever hang out.

Life is too short, and I will not be judged. I’m gonna grab my joy where I can find it, and if it comes in the form of Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, all’s the better.

Joyful Noise Medley

‘Cause if that don’t make you happy right now, you ain’t trying.

I’ve Found My Dream Job

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It’s true. Not that I don’t find my current work in the nonprofit world of family mental health advocacy to be rewarding, I do. And it’s not that I don’t see God working through this job, bringing me into places that are in line with His passions but WAY outside my comfort zone. No, I know that where I am right now is where I’m supposed to be.

But I was reminded again today that there IS a perfect dream job out there for me: Permanent Focus Group Participant. Where else will I get to ramble on about all of my Very Important Opinions about Everything? With people watching intently, as if my very thoughts and insights are shaping world events as they listen? Oh, the joy, the thrill of being asked my opinion on things about which I would normally never opine!

If that in itself wasn’t enough to keep me happy and fulfilled (and I am ashamed to admit how very close it comes), there is the added fun of being put in a room of random citizens I would NEVER otherwise meet. I get to analyze and then reshape the opinions I form of each of them in the focus group center waiting room before the focus group starts. I may look like I am eating snacks and drinking complimentary beverages, but I am scopin’ them out like the CIA. (Did I mention the snacks, and the free diet soda? Really, a perfect job.)

Is the shy lady who looks like she might be a librarian actually soft-spoken, or will she turn out to be a shrill, opinionated meter reader? How about the gentleman who looks like a debonair wealthy businessman? Who would have guessed that he was the child of alcoholic parents, that he struggles with long-distance parenting his daughter from an early divorce, or that he would so easily share that information with a room full of strangers? And the buff chick that looks like a runner; yep, she’s a runner. The weird-looking guy with the blue, textured velour jacket who likes to swear a lot? Yep, he’s weird. (He seemed awfully sure that his dentist could tell he smoked weed by looking at his teeth. What do I know? Maybe he can.)

It’s so fun to speculate about all of these people, knowing that in moments I get to find out more about them than I would if we went to the same gym or if our kids went to the same school for months or even years. And even more fun to be reminded in this crowded world buzzing with faceless “other” people on the roads, in the mall, at the grocery store, that we each have our stories, we are each unique, unexpected facets of the One who created us.

And THEN I get PAID, and paid well, for this? Fabulous, just fabulous.

Does it matter that tonight I helped evaluate nothing more exciting than new concepts in dental plans? Nope. Or detract at all from the experience that the last time I got to express my newly formed opinions on sport watch technology (given that a sport watch is WAY LOW on my list of required accessories)? Nope.

Pay me to have an opinion, and put me in a room where I am paid to competitively express that opinion? (Can I think of something new? Something clever? Can I make them reconsider their entire business plan, and beg to hire me for my brilliant insight? Can I make them laugh?) Bring it on.

Yes, if you’re wondering, I realize I may have a problem. I should probably re-examine what exactly my outsize enjoyment of focus group participation say about me.

Wait, wait, enough about me, back to ME!

Mayhaps I should memorize the following scripture?

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

Darn it. I’m pretty sure living that out will also rule out my dream job ….

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