Friday, May 21, 2010

Wishful Thinking

It didn’t start out as a day of relaxation or revelation. Sure, it was Mother’s Day, but a more pressing concern was the appraiser who would be showing up on our doorstep first thing Monday morning. The house needed to look its very best, which translated into a holiday packed full of work.

After a yummy breakfast in bed, made by my finally capable children, we crawled out of the cocoon of covers and rallied up the forces. Floors needed to be swept and vacuumed, laundry was piled high, clutter had to find its rightful home. The jobs seemed to never end. By mid day we needed some kind of goal, some encouragement to keep the day from becoming a day of complete work and no fun. We had to do something to mark the one day a year that everyone thinks about where they came from and who they call ‘mama’.

A pay per view movie did the trick. One of the kids mentioned Avatar had recently been released. I had always wanted to see the movie with the tall blue people. It seemed to be the perfect answer. Some pizza that I didn’t have to make and a movie appropriate for the many ages that would be gathering on the sofa. We finished the day full of chores knowing there was good on the horizon.

I popped the popcorn. Sam gathered the blankets. Everyone claimed their seats. In our sparkling clean house, with piles of clean laundry in every dresser drawer (which in itself was a wonderful gift to me, once Monday morning rolled around) , we turned off all the lights in the house and hunkered down for a show. And boy was it a show. I finally know what all the hype was about.

Even in our living room, with sound coming out of TV speakers, not surround sound in a theater, the movie was a joy to look at. The scripted story didn’t speak to me nearly as strongly as the visual story. It was just a beautiful movie to watch. It was creative and colorful and full of new images. I am awed by huge imagination and I was awed by scene after scene in this film. But one in particular almost moved me to tears.

It wasn’t the one you might expect either. Yes, the scene where the tree blows up is startling. Yes, the visual image of so many people, in such a tight cultural quilt, bonding together under a sparkling tree, trying to save a life, was breath taking. But the scene I was most moved by might have slipped right by you.

The main character, a young man who’s lost the use of his legs, is given an opportunity to revisit the world of the able bodied. He climbs into a machine and within minutes is transferred into the body of an avatar. An avatar who is in excellent physical condition. It takes him a while to acclimate to his new body. He struggles to sit up but eventually escapes out the back door of the lab, to try out his new abilities.

And this is where it got emotional for me. His first steps were tentative but soon he was skipping, then jogging, then full on sprinting across a field. I could practically feel his excitement.

I’ve never known what it feels like to run. I lost the ability about the same time I began having memories in life. I spent my entire childhood trying to hide the fact my left foot lacked the range of motion needed to create a running gait. I have watched runners, on TV and in my own family, with awe and respect. It looks so amazing, so fluid, when practiced by the well trained. I can be mesmerized by their motion but I can never truly comprehend how it feels.

So the idea that a person who had been confined to a wheelchair, desperately missing the use of his lower limbs, could get the chance to stand up and walk again, even run again, was almost overwhelming to me.

In our dark living room, caught up in the images on the big TV screen, I could almost imagine what it might feel like to have two good feet. To take tiny steps, trying them out, seeing what they can do, and end up in a full running gait, each foot hitting the ground solid and strong. The sound effects in the movie were amazing. The thump of his feet, his breath heavy with exertion. It seemed so very real to me.

To be given the chance to start over. Not just the way I did, replacing a worn out foot of flesh and bone with a metal one made of titanium steel. But to be instantly morphed into a wholly capable body and have the chance to try it out, to run and jump and push the limits of physical capability. Seeing it play out on the screen was very moving, almost magical to me. It could definitely be described as a gift.

So my Mother’s Day turned out just fine after all. I got to curl up on the couch with a bunch of my favorite people on the planet and watch a most remarkable movie. I got to escape into another world and expand my imagination. When the lights came up and it was time to go to bed, heading into a brand new week, it felt like we’d had a very special day.

Who knew that chores and a Hollywood film could mix so well?


Doug said...

That's one of my favorite scenes as well, but for different reasons. For me it was like a microcasm of coming of age. We watched him go from helpless with blurry vision through running all out. We watched him tentatively stand up, defy his doctors and assert his own needs.

Along with all the other scenes ... I must admit we bought Avatar the day it came out. Couldn't pass that up!

cherylm said...

The minute I saw the pic from Avatar, I knew what you'd be writing an amp myself, that scene was so amazingly powerful!

Madleggs said...

You took the words right out of my head! I too have never been able to run due to a deformed left foot. The whole movie was fantastic but much like you and cherylm that scene stuck with me through out the whole movie. Another fantastic story.

terry said...

You know I loved this post. I will have to ask Will about that part of the film. I think I am going to let him read your post.

I hope he will leave you a comment.