The movie Out of Africa came out in 1985. Frank and I thought it the worst movie we had ever seen and considered walking out of the theatre out of complete boredom. We were twenty-three.
Twenty-four years later, my life then doubled in length, I watched it again.
It took that length of time for me to get it.
At twenty-three, it’s not that I didn’t know love. It’s not that I didn’t value the beauty and wonder of nature. It’s not that I didn’t understand what it meant to travel and leave one’s home and country.
It’s that I didn’t know these things deeply enough.
Watching it so many years later, I watched a completely different story. It was a story of love, still, but......
love and loss
love and pain
love and betrayal
love in friendship and respect of others
love in kindness and generosity
love in truly understanding other human beings
love and connection
love and letting go
love and joy
Now there were so many layers to the story. At twenty-three, I hadn’t lived enough to touch the layers and begin to peel them back. I didn’t even see there were layers.
It’s a wonderful thing when a movie or book or a conversation can creep so deeply inside of us that it moves us, gives us a sense of knowing and clarity, and changes us. In both Robert Redford’s and Meryl Streep’s characters in Out of Africa, I recognized pieces of me. I identified with their feelings because of my own knowing and understanding. In this discovery through characters, we may learn something about ourselves and find peace with those parts now that we have validation and confirmation.
If we pause to observe or read, we may find the messages entwined with our own lives no matter how disparate the story or location.
I’ve never owned a farm in Africa; I didn’t live in 1910; I don’t know a thing about safaris or growing coffee, but this movie moved me to want to kiss my husband, and hug my children, and value more my family and my friends.
It also made me want to honor my need to spend time alone and live my life as a woman of independent means. Although Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) lost everything, her story left me with a feeling of hope. Her grace, civility, steadfastness, and strong yearning for love and companionship touched me, at forty-seven, at my very core.
Are there movies in your past or books that it’s time to watch or read again?
Let’s seek the media to get us thinking about what matters most to us and urges us to act in a way that we live our lives more fully.