What Arose from Arrival
“But now I’m not so sure I believe in beginnings or endings. There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrived.”
That quote is near the beginning of the movie and it struck me so much I had to go find it afterwards. Which is one very convenient aspect of the internet; I was already so engrossed in the movie that I didn’t want to stop it to go find a paper and pen, and lo and behold, the quote was already ready and waiting for me on IMDB when I was done.
There is something incredibly poignant about that line: There are days that define your story beyond your life. The moment I heard it I got shivers and had to sit up and pay more attention. Maybe it’s just me and my need to feel more important than this ordinary body/person/mother/human/woman that I am, but when I heard those words I took notice. To have your story go beyond your life, well, that’s the stuff of history, isn’t it? That’s the kind of stuff that would have landed you in an encyclopedia, or, on Wikipedia.
It’s interesting that when I looked up that quote on IMDB, one of the movies they recommended based on my interest in Arrival was Hacksaw Ridge. Another story that would go far beyond ones life. And in this case, it was a true story that did indeed go beyond the protagonist’s life in the simple fact that I was watching the movie about him after he’d died. Technically, his life was over but his story wasn’t.
Isn’t that what so many of us want? Isn’t that what fame, fortune, and even religion is about? The search for something more? Something beyond this one life right now? To go beyond our meager years in this human body on this earth?
But if there are no beginnings and no endings, well then, it doesn’t matter how little or much time we have on this earth because it can continue, it can come back around and around and around again. Wasn’t that what was happening in this movie (I’m back to Arrival now)? At the beginning of the movie we thought our main character was revisiting a past only to discover that it had not yet happened. Which then opened up an entirely new way of looking at things. At least, it did for me.
I have this need to go beyond, beyond who I am now. My life feels so incredibly ordinary, so plain, so mundane some days that to have the kind of day that contains a story that can go beyond my life sounds impossible. But then, I look at the relationships in my life, the people around me, and start to wonder if perhaps the plain-ness, the mundanity of it all, is what makes it so amazing. How I feel for those in my life and how they feel for me, this is what takes it beyond the every day.
Which leads me back to the movie to a quote that asks a question that could have you spinning circles: If you could see your entire life from start to finish, would you change things?
Would you change things? The things we would usually change don’t usually involve things at all, do they? They usually involve people, relationships. Loving harder, being kinder, especially to those we might have lost.
When I was watching this movie, she explains to her daughter why her father left. She tells her it is because he believed she made the wrong decision. I do not want to go much farther and ruin it for you, only am using this as an example to show you how a movie can change how we see things so entirely. Earlier on, I agreed with the husband. I completely emphasized with him and looked to my own husband and said, that would have been me. I would have been the one to run rather than face heartbreak and pain that would never go away. But then I finished the movie and I went to bed and suddenly, all the things I would have lost out on came to me.
Would you put yourself in a position of great pain, great heart ache, to feel what it is to have a great love, great happiness, great joy? The kind that could change your life? I mean, I know it’s silly to reduce it to this, but a great deal of my body is covered in tattoos. In order to get them, I endured pain. But it was worth it because the end product was so amazing.
So would I have run to avoid the pain? Because then I would have deprived myself of the beauty that went with it. At the beginning of this movie, I might have said yes. At the end, I had to stop and question that answer. I’d gone from emphasizing with the husband to wanting to shake him and tell him to turn around, he’s missing out on some of the most beautiful moments of his life!
Would I change things if I knew how my life would turn out? Maybe, but then I might have more of the physical things I want – a career, fortune, life on a beach, but I might not have those relationships that have taken my life to a whole other level. My life might be more exciting but it could be devoid of the stuff that makes it worth living. And really, I don’t know how things will turn out anyways. It’s not a decision I have to make. I have not been granted the gift of future-sight. I have not been given the chance to see where I end up, so I’m not sure. But I can go back. I can go back and feel the things I felt when, say, my daughter was born, when I held my son for the first time, when I fell into my husband’s arms when I learned my father had died. I can go back no matter what is before me.
And if I wouldn’t go back and change things, except maybe how I reacted to the things that went on in my life and the people in it, then maybe I have to trust that what is ahead of me is going to be alright as well. That maybe, I don’t need to know what will happen to appreciate that it is in my best interest, that it is leading me where I need to go. Because maybe where I’m heading is just the beginning of something else, or the middle of something else entirely, or it could really be the end. But if time is like that on Arrival, with no certain beginning or ending, then really, we could end up right where we are now at the end.
I don’t know what I’m trying to say here, this movie kind of does that to you. It makes you uncertain. It makes you question. It takes the reality of a straight line and curls it into a circle so you have to question things all over again. And for that, I loved it.
And of course, the way she can take a sentence and make it mean so many different things, or even a single word have so many possibilities. It’s like our lives, when you come right down to it. What it may mean for us, how we interpret it, could be entirely different from one person to the next. I think, in our lives and in this movies, we are meant to sit and absorb every moment. Slow down and take it all in.