Bored with life and determined to not make it a job-home-sleep-job thing, I sat one night watching a movie online – ‘Under The Tuscan Sun‘. The first time I saw a poster of it was at my first job at an advertising firm. It was hung on a wall in my boss’s cubicle and listed among ‘the most romantic movies of all time’. That was three years ago and I wanted to go back home and see it that very night. I ended up seeing it last week finally. It turns out that even things like books and movies come to you in their own time, when you need them the most.
My soul twin once said that to me about Ayn Rand’s ‘Fountainhead’. I had lost the copy that I had just started reading. I wanted so badly to read it and be a part of the conversations in college where it was being discussed. And I wanted to scoff at my soul twin for spouting wisdom over me losing the book, the story and the chance at being part of the world. After all, he was an active part of the ‘Fountainhead’ discussions at college. He was an active part of whichever book was being discussed at college. He was a step or two ahead in fact. They offered him rapt attention when he spoke his perspective on the books. They picked up the titles he recommended. And then to top it all, he wrote poetry that shot arrows into a million hearts and made me tear out and ball up the attempt pages of my scribble-book. But he told me ‘It will come to you when it’s your time to read it, when you need it.‘
And it did.
‘Fountainhead’ came to me last year, when I was reeling from my worst break up so far and I had lost track of myself as a person. It was the book that I have taken the longest time to read till date. And I managed to read up till the part of the story which was relevant to me and meant to help me. After that, there was this once I spoke to my ex and felt like he needed to read it and it would help him in that phase of his life. I’ve never got it back. So that story is best left incomplete, I suppose.
‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ also came to me when I needed it the most.
People always say that it’s about the journey more than the destination, but sometimes the journey becomes so much of a rut that you forget the destination altogether. You lose direction to it. That’s what has been happening with me and it’s a constant struggle to get out of it. And life, to me, should be such that there are a million instant and long-term destinations and the journey is thoroughly worthwhile. The life I want is an overwhelming blockbuster. The life I lead is a soap opera. My sister, Aparna, traces it to me not being radical enough. Gen. D traces it to me not being bold enough. Both of them mainly trace it to my negativity. It’s hard when your life isn’t what you thought it would be. It’s harder when a sister, who has had a huge role in you turning out to be who you are, and the one you’re in love with, come up with the same conclusion as to why it isn’t.
The movie was about Frances, a writer, recently divorced, who goes on a tour to Italy and her life changes because she makes the one radical, irrational decision of buying a villa in Tuscany. It wasn’t a phenomenal movie and it didn’t turn my life around. It hardly saved me from the gloom and boredom I was in for the very next week.
But there are a few things that Aparna keeps telling me. She keeps coming to my rescue in small and strange ways, each time I feel like I’m dissolving into oblivion or resigning to being sucked into the quicksand of premature mid-life crisis. Of late, she and Gen. D have had to come to my rescue way too many times. This movie gave me a few interesting points to work along the same lines that Appu and Gen. D keep talking about.
The character of Katherine from the movie caught my attention the minute she said ‘Terrible idea…. don’t you just love those?‘ ‘You have to live spherically, in many directions, never lose your childish enthusiasm and things will come your way‘ That’s another one of the great things Katherine says in the movie. That’s the best piece of advice I can follow and share with you and your people.
What I liked about the movie was that Katherine, this gorgeous flamboyant woman, isn’t shown having a fairy tale of a life, for all the beautiful things she believes in. She isn’t even shown having a miraculously happy ending like Frances, who gets the chance to say ‘Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game. It’s such a surprise.‘ Things end somewhat like a Jane Austen book in the movie – everything suddenly works out ridiculously perfect for Frances. And this, after the she has the luxury of giving up on her faith whenever she wants to. While Katherine, an absolute darling, never gives up on her faith and I don’t see her finally having that one thing in life that makes her wait and her unflinching belief in one of the loveliest philosophies about life worthwhile. From the whole movie, the one thing that stayed with me more than the others is Katherine – her willingness to have faith despite there being no promises for her. To me, that’s the point of the whole story of the movie – to have faith even if there isn’t a happy ending awaiting you just one hour into watching how it all goes.
Because there’s one thing I’ve kept saying to myself and anyone who’d take it – prayer, faith and love. But the truth is I’ve lost it much more than I’ve sustained it. Now, somewhere there’s a struggle begun to truly sustain it. It’s not because of the movie or because of one person or because of anything in particular actually. But let’s just leave it at that.
In the meantime, there’s this beautiful story that has been shared in the movie. For those who haven’t seen it,and for those who have seen it but don’t remember it – ‘Between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep , very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day the train would come.‘ I actually went online to check whether this was just a tidbit made up for the movie to inspire Frances and the ones watching her and clutching their own vulnerable hearts. Karl Ritter von Ghega was the man who designed the Semmering Railway.
That was a track laid out for a train on a steep part of a mountain. All we have to do is lay the track we want our lives to be on and get our individual lives on that track. Anyway, that’s enough preaching for tonight, friends, Romans and countrymen.
PS – Brutus was an honorable man.