We watched Awakenings (1990) tonight, and I was left with a newly found appreciation for life. This movie drives home the following point very well: you don’t know what you have till you’ve lost it.
Imagine watching your life, as you know it, become unavailable to you, which is what happens to people who suffer from neurological diseases. Imagine sitting there, trying to fight it, but knowing there really isn’t anything that can be done, while you slowly lose your coordination, balance, speech, senses, and become a catatonic mass, a vegetable, a ghost of what you once were. Through it all (and this point is debatable) you are aware of what happens around you, of what others are trying to communicate to you, but you cannot respond in any way. As one character in the movie puts it, it is “unthinkable”.
As I sat there, taking it all in, a photo of Ligia and I stood by the screen, and my eyes kept jumping to it. What we have is so precious. Much more precious than anything else out there. We not only have life, but we have love. We have so much. So much more than many others. And even if I didn’t have her, I’d still have my life and my health. These are both amazingly precious, and I always fail to realize it until either of them is in danger. Only then do I begin to see all of the things I take for granted.
I can’t put this into words properly. Every once in a while, I get a glimpse of my life from an outside perspective, and then it hits me: I’m a fortunate person. I should stop worrying about the little things. I should be happy. All the time. I have so much. The other things: gadgets, technology, computers, income — these are all insignificant without love, life and health.
Let’s face it, computers may have made our lives a little better, but they’ve also made them more miserable, busier, and more complicated. Gadgets are cool, but we don’t really need them. Technology is nice, but without human interaction and common sense, it only makes things worse. Income is nothing more than an enabler, something that lets you have a place to live and buy food and other things. When you start seeing it as something else, you’ve got problems.
What really matters is life — experiencing it to the fullest, gaining the realization of the gift that it is and being thankful for being alive. It’s so easy to get caught in the busy-ness of life that we lose our self-consciousness, that child-like sense of wonder at the things around us. I know I do that, and I shouldn’t. Every time I get caught up in pointless things, I waste precious time, which adds up. Life is so short… too short.
There was a scene in the movie which was telling for me. It was at the end. Dr. Sayer was typing an article, and the nurse, Eleanor, got ready to head home for the night, but lingered, hoping he might ask her out. He continued working, so she left, quietly. As soon as she closed the door to his office, he fidgeted nervously, knowing what he should have done. Then he jumped up, opened the window, called out to her, and ran out to invite her for coffee. But this wasn’t what struck me. After all, this was what we, as an audience, expected him to do. No, what I found interesting was the way he saved his work. He simply stopped typing, got up and left…
Think about that for a moment.