Thursday, June 07, 2012

Of Mirrors and Motorcycles

How do you share a piece of art that you love as deeply as some people with another who is free to feel whatever they will about it? It's a conundrum I bet most have dealt with: do I choose to extend this precious thing from me with the possibility that it return empty, spilt, devalued? Or, safer but understandable, do I hold it as mine and mine alone thereby preserving it for myself and preserving my world from the possibility of it being tarnished and, by extension, others being tarnished to me for their opinions of it.

I go through this thought process every time I loan out a certain couple of books, as well as every time I show The Motorcycle Diaries. I will have little to say about Ernesto Guevara here. The movie is about him, but its significance reaches much farther, and its relevance to the Costa Rica program could not be more emphatic. The moment is simply too opportune for me to keep it to myself.

Here you have two travelers on an adventure that undeniably serves as an axis point for both of their lives. Here you have ten students on an equally thrilling adventure, which could easily have a similar effect. The question is, are they ready to catch it flying by in the blur of class, homework, night clubs, and Guaro

Like most ideas that are "beyond us and this moment in time," a tangible source by which to cut through the abstractness can help understanding greatly. For this movie and this situation, my metaphor par excellence is the shower drain or the air filter. Because of the reality of being in a new country and studying a second language, the rushing stimulus of all this newness can be quite overwhelming. Not unlike nearsightedness, there is a world out there that I interact with but cannot fully ascertain. To help manage this hugeness I like to think of us as semipermeable objects that allow any number of substances to flow through us. We trap the big things. We hold onto the interactions that meant something to us. "Walk through your days with open hands ready to grab what is there to grab, and to merely touch what you do not need to hold close," I say.

And then we watch our heroes Alberto Granado and Ernesto Guevara, one of them significantly skilled in this practice and on display for two or so hours. Writing this just now I've realized that debriefing the movie with this kind of discussion before hand lessens the weight of the "OMG PLZ LOVE THIS!!!" feeling that I would otherwise have if I simply popped it in the DVD player for movie night with some friends. 

Digression, but on topic: looking in the mirror. Is it a positive action? Do we go to the mirror expecting greatness? To me it more often functions within the "Oh-geez, I hope I look ok!" mindset. So (and I may be leaping here), not loving what we see in the mirror is very much a common part of the human experience, but I think as long as we see what there is to see and really take it in, love it or not, then we are probably as much ourselves as we could hope to be. They don't have to love The Motorcycle Diaries, because whether or not they do isn't the point. The point is that they are it, and that they see themselves fully in this mirror.

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