Robert Redford has always been a favorite actor of mine, from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid onward, to the wonderful film Sneakers to the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier he has always embodied the last hurrah of the old studio system to me, the time of the great film stars. Not to mention he is also portrayed Roy Hobbes, which I’ve blogged about elsewhere. 🙂
It has a lot to do with his good looks but also his altruism and integrity, his simple genuineness. There’s the old game you play where you are asked if you could have dinner and conversation with someone from history, Mr. Redford is one of those on the top of my list.
I can identify with every one of the characters that the man has portrayed on the big screen. Their flaws, their struggles. Not his fantastic looks though, unfortunately 😉
In 2013 Mr. Redford was in the film All is Lost. It’s a survival film, and in short is about a man who is on a journey, only to find – through circumstances he had little to no control over – that his survival is threatened and that death is almost certain. Much like Cast Away or Gravity or The Life of Pi or the magnificent The Grey , the film is about fighting to live against insurmountable odds.
Luckily, I haven’t found myself in such dire circumstances, or even had my life seriously threatened to the point where I felt that my death was imminent.
I have, however, been struggling to survive.
There is an image that gets posted to FB or Pinterest quite a bit, and the image is one variation or another of one of those ‘be positive’ or ‘motivational’ quotes: Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It’s not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument, or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make, period. – Anon
And while this is true, you make the choices in your life, you and only you – not every consequence of a choice you make is yours, is it? The person who loses their life because a drunk driver jumps the median and plows into them because they happen to be in that spot that exact moment – how are they responsible for that decision or choice. PERIOD?
Or boarding a plane for a destination because its on the leg of a vacation or business trip and the plane is hijacked or disintegrates mid-air because of a flaw in construction or a dozen other scenarios you could imagine – how are they responsible for that decision or choice. PERIOD?
I see that my position in life at any given time is a result of choices I make. I get that. But I don’t exist in a vacuum – there are other people around me, who I interact with, who affect my choices or decisions on a daily basis – and though I may make a choice which appears to be safe or beneficial to my health or security or happiness – it can at anytime be wiped away by the actions or choices of another.
In the film All is Lost, Redford is sailing alone and his ship is damaged by a floating cargo container – a huge metal box that has fallen off a cargo ship. The container is filled with tennis shoes, en-route no doubt to some mall or store so that people Redford’s character will never know or meet can purchase or wear them. So the choice he made, the path he took is suddenly a danger to his survival because of something he had nothing to do with – it was just bad luck. It wasn’t destined or written in stone was it? Is anything?
If you detect a note of anger in these words you wouldn’t be mistaken.
As I said, I find myself struggling to survive – and by survive, I mean the day to day struggle to achieve balance and happiness – and I find I am dealing with cargo containers that rip into my hull just when I thought I was finally on a path that was free and clear of obstacles. And while the circumstances are vastly different than what I described of Redford’s movie, and I am very much responsible for my actions or choices and responses to the obstacles that have impeded my progress or growth or happiness… I still find myself so incredibly angry over certain circumstances that have nothing to do with me, but are the result of what others have chosen or decided.
I do my best to live positive, to strive to be good and fair to everyone around me. I am overly sensitive to things and find that I have very little patience for rudeness, or people who are unaware of their surroundings or how they intrude or affect those around them – of the propensity of most of humanity to move through their day with this ‘me first, fuck you very much’ attitude – whether it is dealing with someone who is driving below the speed limit because they think they are the only ones on the road and don’t have to be anywhere right away, or walking through a store behind someone blabbing on their phone or finding that they are blocking the aisle with their cart while they taken an eternity to choose which brand of soup to put in their cart.
Maybe I am just being overly sensitive to this sort of behavior – and that is my choice – and if we hold to the “truth” I stated above, then the result is that my choice to try and be the better person, to step aside to allow someone else access to a row of items or to move along quickly so that others may also arrive at their destinations in a timely manner – that is a WRONG choice, because it ultimately results in a detriment to my life or my life’s journey.
I guess the choice I should make is to just not care – to not feel, to not participate at all in this bullshit any longer, because obviously I am am simply a prick and all this ranting about it proves it. What a horrible horrible person I must be to whine about my life being turned upside down because someone else chose to make a left turn instead of a right turn and now I am left picking up the pieces.
A year and a half ago I wrote a post about something that at the time was so full of hope and promise. And now, after trying hard to make it a reality, I have to let it go.
It isn’t anyone’s fault really – at the end of it all it comes down to the old chestnut that life is just not fair.
It rips me up because I feel I didn’t make the right choices, couldn’t rise above my circumstances and make it work. That the work I was trying to achieve never materialized, that a boss decided that my position wasn’t needed after all, that the wage I was earning just didn’t cut it in this present economy and I could not afford to make things happen that might have resulted in a better set of circumstances for myself – or for her.
So in the end, my choices created this present situation – if I hold true to the ‘everything I do is based on the choices I make’ line of thinking.
The trouble with that is I didn’t make them alone. There were other choices made, by others than myself and they too affected the situation and contributed to the final outcome.
It doesn’t make it any less painful or sad, or help diffuse the disappointment I feel because of it.
Back in November the location I am currently living in experienced an ice storm that left us with out power for four days. To occupy ourselves during those cold and electricity-free hours, we played Milton Bradley’s The Game of Life. In the ten or twelve rounds we played, I never won once.
And that’s what I’m feeling right now… that I just can’t win at this game.