A few weeks ago, I watched Amour, a movie centered on Georges and Anne, a married couple in their eighties. They reside in Paris as retired and cultivated music teachers. Their peaceful lives change when Anne suffers a stroke that paralyzes the right side of her body. George chooses to take care of her no matter what the consequence.
The media floods us with images of passionate love, with dramatized versions of real life. Whether we cry over Rose and Jack, the shipwrecked lovers in Titanic, or bawl over Hazel Grace and Augustus, the adolescent protagonists in The Fault in Our Stars, we see so many of the same pictures: sweeping romantic gestures, speeches filled with grandiose language, and two people who have to fight with all their resolve to salvage a relationship doomed to failure. While I adore a lot of these stories, I wonder how many of them get to the heart of compassionate love, or the kind of caring that comes from listening, responsibility, and kindness.
Amour felt so quiet. We learn that Anne suffers a stroke; we do not see it. We know that the couple has a sprawling history in music; we do not hear it. Rather, the film takes us into the most intimate moments of Georges and Anne’s lives: the small acts of compassion and tenderness and loyalty that comprise an all-encompassing love. Amour is a real love story: honest and heartbreaking in its subtlety, clinical and moving in its delivery.
As someone who studies Psychology and wants to make a difference in the lives of others, I often ask myself about the best way to affect people. This semester, I find myself pulled in so many different directions, with a schedule that pushes me to my feet for several hours on end and a multitude of obligations that always keep me busy. One night a couple of weeks ago, I shut myself in my dormitory’s parlor, just so I could get a few hours of alone time and give myself a break. Several questions still tore at me, like little needles that pricked at me just enough to keep me on edge: is what I’m doing really helping people? How much more of a difference can I make? Has anything I’ve done really moved anyone at all?
Amour reminded me to take stride in the small things and to appreciate the quiet, unrecognized acts of kindness that I and so many others carry out. I need to step back and recognize the time I spend volunteering or talking with someone about their day, the little acts of friendship I share with my roommate, and the courses and lessons I learn, all of which I aim toward making several small, great, and quiet changes for the rest of my years. We choose how we live and who we touch, and I have decided to dedicate myself to my mission, no matter its size.
Amour stripped away love’s grandeur and left it in its barest form, the raw and real humanity that connects us to one another. In the end, that humanity – delicate and durable, dubious and defined – is all that lasts.
Sorry for not posting for over a month! I have finally established a weekly writing time with a coworker and friend, so hopefully with that schedule and with fall break coming up I can post more. How have you all been – what is your perception of the school year so far, or what it means to make a difference and live happily as a result? If you want, you can check out my reviews of The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie, and What You Pawn I Will Redeem by Sherman Alexie here, here, and here respectively. I look forward to hearing from all of you soon!