Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

Since my dad had some guy friends over today, my mom and I took the opportunity to have a girls' night. And what better to do on a girls' night, than to watch a chick flick?

My mom and I saw The Fault in Our Stars. It's about this girl with cancer who meets a boy supposedly in remission and falls in love. It was so much fun! It may be anti-girl of me to say, but I did not cry at all. I mean I was sad, or at least tried to be, but no water works came.

Here's my theory on why: the sad climax of the movie is maybe the last five to ten minutes of the movie. The rest of it is the cocky, hilarious guy, who isn't afraid to love a walking time bomb, and a girl who knows she's going to die, but ignores that fact because she's in love. What is not enjoyable about that? I was too happy by the end  to be sad.

And another thing: I think this story has been mis-interpreted. It supposedly is supposed to be a chick flick movie to eliminate the illusion that life is like it is in chick flicks, all happy and lovey dovey, and in a way, it succeeds. There is no doubt that you are kidding yourself if you believe that life is a chick flick, and everyone lives happily ever after, walking into the sunset with a sappy song in the background. I have learned that the hard way this year, as some of you may know.

But this movie also tries to go away from that. It focuses on pain sometimes: "Pain demands to be felt." And it does. And, just as Gus pointed out that we get to choose who we let hurt us, we can also choose how we react to pain. We can choose to completely shut down, which I almost thought the heartbroken character would do at the end, and which I have almost chosen, and we can also choose to do something with it, like Hazel's parents.

Instead of staying in their house and staring at walls, if Hazel died, they had decided instead to be counselors to other parents of kids with cancer, to help them through the same pain that they experienced. That seems pretty cool to me, and  a lot more productive than dwelling on your loss.

Something else I learned from this movie, and from my experiences this past year, is about pain itself. Sure, most of the time pain is the body's reaction to harm. But, I think of it a little differently now. Pain can also be a form of love, or an indication of it. If you feel pain when someone dies, it means you care about them. It does mean you're sad that someone's gone, but that is only because you are remembering all the happy times you had with them. If you didn't love the person who died, you wouldn't feel anything. It would just be another obituary in the paper that you skip over.

A lot of people suppress pain, to keep themselves from looking weak, or to spare others. I think that is the worst possible thing. While one of those reasons is selfless, the other is selfish, and denying yourself in the process. No one can help you if they don't know you hurt. They might even take your emotionlessness as not caring, and their perception of you could change. Also, pain, emotional or physical, only gets worse when not helped.

It's best to let out pain, and give up your pride. Once you get the pain out, what's left but the joy you had with the person you miss?

I don't think the fault is in our stars. The fault is in us. We deny ourselves and only hurt ourselves more, like this cardinal in the garden outside my shrink's office who never realizes that the bird he keeps attacking is only his reflection, and is only hurting himself. We choose the wrong way to react to pain sometimes.

But, in another way, this movie isn't about pain. It's about what you do with those emotions, and how you choose to let them define you. It's about how you live on through the pain, and still manage to find something to bring you joy, like how Hazel climbed all those steps in Anne Frank's house even though her lungs could barely handle it, and ended up loving what she saw, and getting her first kiss with Gus, and finally allowing herself to love even though she is afraid to hurt those she loves.

Going along with that, I think Gus was really admirable, that he knew he wouldn't live forever, and neither would Hazel, but he didn't let the fear of dying deny him the joy of loving Hazel, and being with her. I think a part of him knew that the joy he had with Hazel would always exceed any pain he would feel if she died. Isn't that the same about most things? You forget the pain, but remember the fun? Like how you scrape your knee falling off your bike. At first, it hurts a lot, and all you can think of is getting a bandage on it. But afterwards, once the pain subsides, at least in my experience, you laugh about how dumb it was that you fell, and how much fun you were having biking before that.

And does scraping your knee keep you from riding your bike ever again? For most people, no. They get back on and are just more careful. Just like I'm sure the main character of this story will love again, once the pain of their loss lessens.

So, that's it: don't hide pain, it's ok! It doesn't last forever, and it's not all you'll remember, so power through it. Never let potential temporary pain keep you from experiences that can bring you eternal joy. And, no matter how much you feel you lose, and that possibly you'll never get out of your slump, remember that you will, if you try.

So that's what I got from this movie. Thanks for reading