I had the opportunity to watch two great movies this week. The first, was a documentary Josh and I watched on Netflix, called The Human Experience. It’s about a group of young men from New York City who all come from rough backgrounds and live together in a halfway house. They decide that they want to try to understand how other people live, so they spend a week living with the homeless people of New York, a week in Peru working with abandoned and abused children and a week at a leper colony in Ghana. In each of these places they find people who are happy simply because they have a community of people who love and support them. The people they interview have no worldly possessions and are considered outcasts of society, yet they have found happiness. They have found love.
It’s so interesting to me that in today’s culture we are bombarded with the idea that we need “stuff” to be happy. We need big houses, nice cars, cool clothes etc. It’s so easy to buy into this idea, but none of these things are what bring me happiness. I made a list of the things that bring me the most joy:
1. My faith. I find joy in discovering God and learning how to live life with him.
2. My loved ones. I love coming home to people who get up a greet me with a hugs and kisses.
3. Nature. I love being outside, whether in my yard, hiking in the woods or at the ocean.
4. Art. Creativity, my own and other people’s, brings me joy. Music, visual art, and books, art conveys emotion, brings back memories and sets the mood for everyday events.
These are the things that are important to me.
So, I understand how people in unfortunate circumstances find happiness. They choose it. They find the important things that come for free. Faith, companionship, love, beauty.
The young men in The Human Experience quote Victor Frankl, “The last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.”
The other movie was Super 8. Without giving away the story, I can say the movie was about overcoming conflict, fear and hatred and the importance of friendship, family, compassion and love. It follows a group of kids who do some remarkable things in the midst of chaos. Super 8 is both funny and touching. One of the final scenes is a beautiful gesture that’s symbolic of the freedom that comes with understanding and love.
These movies have had me thinking about the important things in life. If you haven’t yet seen them, I believe it is worth your time.
Originally written on 7/5/2011