Saturday, January 2, 2021

Fifty-One, "Palm Springs," & the Year We All Got Stuck

I'm fifty-one today, and as Jerry and the boys once sang, "nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile."

Normally, my birthday would consist of a nice early morning hike, afternoon visits to a few art galleries, and a happy hour out with the family. None of those things were in the cards this year, and that's OK. Instead, it's been a rather chill and pensive time to simply look at the present. And reflect a bit on the past. And have no expectations for the future.

Last year on January 2, the year of living artfully got off to a pretty solid start with all the favored highlights. And the first few months included a few art classes, some good writing, and ideas about the Colorado summer. And then the world turned sideways, and we found ourselves "stuck in a time loop," the opposite of Billy Pilgrim who fifty-years ago "came unstuck in time." I mention those two ideas because I recently finished re-reading Slaughterhouse Five for the first time since I read and barely understood the book over three decades ago. And, I recently watched the Andy Samberg movie Palm Springs, which is a rather astute and entertaining homage to classic existential meditation Groundhog Day. 

Both those movies, and of course Vonnegut's classic novel, aptly comment on the absurdist nature of existence. Truly the film Palm Springs may be "the perfect film for 2020," and it sardonically investigates the notion that time doesn't really exist in the way we believe it does, never really has, and occasionally the world comes unstuck, or we become stuck, and we must deal with the bizarre nature of the moments in which we exist. As "the definitive rom-com for 2020," the absurdist pop culture vehicle is a perfectly silly meditation on how we spend our days, especially when something comes along to disrupt the expectations we had for how things were supposed to go.

As far as how things go, we will keep on living these moments as they come, and hopefully do so with a bit of wisdom and patience and kindness.

“What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?” —Phil Connors, Groundhog Day

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