Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Les Misérables, gratitude, anxiety, and more gratitude*

On Sunday afternoon, I saw Les Misérables the movie. I had seen it performed when I was a child, in a production that came to Perth and was performed in our outdoor quarry amphitheater  My memories of that performance are a little hazy, but the power of the story and music have remained with me since. I went on to read the book as a teenager, which provided me with background (and extra words) to the musical.

There is a lot written on the movie Les Misérables, and I don't intend to try and repeat it here. I will simply say that I loved it. Adored it, even. I was swept up in the story, the music and the emotion from start to finish. I thought the acting was incredible. Les Misérables has joined Love Actually and Black Swan in my favourite movie list.

Irrelevant photo #1. Bottlebrush atop Reabold Hill, Perth.

I also left the cinema determined to remember how fortunate I am. I have not experienced crippling poverty, known what it is to lack basic necessities, slept on the streets, been beaten or imprisoned, had a child I couldn't support, or lost people I love to war or revolution. The movie opened my eyes to what I already know, but am prone to forgetting when life gets busy or difficult or tiring: I am lucky in my life. And even when my life is busy or difficult or tiring, it is still easier than some people's lives.

This renewed vigor and thankfulness lasted, oh, about 4 hours. By Sunday evening I was worrying about work-related matters, and I proceeded to start the new week more anxious than I have been for some time. My efforts to remind myself of my good fortune were swept away by an internal panic button that decided this was the week it wanted to be pressed.

Irrelevant photo #2. Kalamunda National Park, Perth hills. No panic here.

I am a little unimpressed with myself.

In an effort to re-capture some of that post-movie gratitude, I focused today on finding 5 small things for which I was thankful. As it turns out, I found 6 by midday.

Here is my list.
  1. A husband who, last night, made me laugh until I cried.
  2. A cool breeze on my morning run; being able to run injury-free; and being moderately distracted from my thought processes when running (this is a 3 in 1 special).
  3. My morning coffee with unsweetened almond milk. Perfection.
  4. My workplace having functional air conditioning after 2 weeks without it.
  5. Multiple books on my bedside table, patiently waiting until I choose to sink into them (incorporating birthday and Christmas titles as well as Lonely Planet library loans).
  6. Daydreaming of a camper van and expansive distances in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Irrelevant photo #3. Ladder to nowhere.

For similar thoughts on daily happiness, see Lisa's blog Blithe Moments.

Do you find yourself slipping back to complacency after trying to be mindful of good fortune or similar? Please tell me it isn't just me...

* Alternative post titles included "Why Les Misérables changed my life for four hours", "Why I need to watch Les Misérables daily".

28 comments:

  1. It's so easy to forget to be grateful, so thanks for this reminder Kari :)

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    1. Thanks Gabby, I'm glad it fit with you too :)

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  2. I am so glad you loved Les Mis. I feel the same, although I didn't know the story until seeing the movie.
    And I love Love Actually too! :)

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  3. I looove this post Kari!!! I still want to watch Les Miserables and I'm so so excited~! I think it's great that you acknowledge our mediocre humanness and tendency to fall into complacency, as I myself have those moments more often than I'd like. But you know what? It's so important to know that we are not condemned by God (for those who believe) but that if we're convicted, we just have to follow the conviction. :) We fall, we rise, but that's how the vida loca is my friend~ Have a wonderful day and thank you for the wonderful reminder!

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    1. Thank you Ellie, and you are very right...it's picking ourselves up that matters rather than being on top of everything all the time.

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  4. I think we all get complacent and grumble about our lot from time to time. I haven't been to Le Mis because the story is so harrowing, although I have seen the stage version.

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    1. It is definitely a harrowing story. Powerful, but harrowing.

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  5. It's fascinating to me to read thoughts about Les Mis from people who don't know it inside and out, as I do. I've loved it and known every (really, it's a bit ridiculous) lyric since a kid, and saw it something like five times last August at the USF. I was quite nervous about the movie as a result, but thought it did quite well.

    So good to see yourself being mindful and talking yourself down from anxiety. Good woman. xo

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    1. It must be odd moving from the stage musical products to watching it in film. I have remembered the songs since I saw it as a child, but knowing the songs is not really the same as knowing the musical. I'd love to see it performed in London or Paris or NY.

      Also, thanks :-)

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  6. I read the book of Les Miserables too and it took so long but I was glad I did. I was a bit wary about the movie at the start but I really loved it by the end. It is such an amazing story and the scene with the bishop and the candlesticks is just so beautiful. I think we all need our candlesticks to look upon and draw strength from the goodness and kindness of others towards us even when things aren't so good.

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    1. We do indeed - that is a lovely point. Kindness (and particularly kindness like the bishop shows) can go a very long way towards balancing out the negatives of life.

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  7. YES YES YES often my hyperthinkonism gets the better of me - even when I vow to myself to make a change and count my blessings!
    Coffee does have a magical way of calming me down & reminding me to step away from the commotion & just relax!!!!!

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    1. Hyperthinkonism - I like that phrase ;)

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  8. OMG I loved Les Mis. We sang the songs all through high school choir, starting when I was in year 7 and got the solo in Castle on a Cloud. In french class, we watched the Gerard Depardieu film. In year 10, my mum took me to NYC to watch the Broadway version, which was just 100% magical. And I dragged Andy along to see the Townsville Civic Theatre performance a few years ago (not quite broadway, but we take what we can get) - and despite proclaiming a dislike of musicals, he was also swept up in the revolution, the love and the singing! We saw the film two weeks or so ago, and have both been singing the songs ever since.

    (But you're right, the despair and stark inequalities are profound - especially ironic in theatrical versions, where swankily dressed viewers sip champagne at intermission!)

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    1. You sang the Castle on a Cloud solo? Now I really want to hear you sing! How fantastic, and ditto seeing it in NYC.

      It's good to hear that Andy got caught up in it when you went in Townsville as I am hoping Mr Bite may be convinced to go (he didn't want to, on account of the musical thing) and realise that musicals can be enjoyable!

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  9. I love the gratitude list...especially #! :)

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  10. Thank you so much for mentioning my blog Kari! In a strange coincidence I'm in the middle of working on a post about gratitude, look out for it in a week or so.
    And my gosh, I just LOVED the movie. It keeps popping into my head 2 weeks later after I saw it. Now I'm waiting to see Anna Karenina. That also looks AMAZING.

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    1. Ooh, I will look out for it! And you are very welcome Lisa :-)

      I can't wait to see Anna Karenina either. I love Keira Knightley and the film looks fantastic!

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  11. I saw Les Mis too and yes, it's a great movie and very moving. I love almond milk too! I'd love to take a campervan to Far North Qld and the Northern Territory xx

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    1. I hope we manage to do it (the campervan trip) - I am so in love with the idea :-)

      Glad you liked Les Mis too!

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  12. I LOVED Les Mis also and it definitely put life in perspective for me also. At least for a little while :P

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    1. The little while is so key to that comment :P

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  13. I need to go see Les Mis. It looks awesome. I'm sure it definitely puts things into perspective. It can be difficult to forget with all of the stresses of everyday life, but we all have a lot to be thankful for. Kudos on making that list. It's lovely. PS: I also love the "irrelevant photos," and Love Actually. :)

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    1. Thank you Colynn :-) And I hope you do make it along to the movie - it is worth it!

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  14. I haven't seen any of these...I feel so out of touch, ha ha! And it's always good to count your blessings, but so easy to forget about doing it! And #1 is definitely a gooder. Oh, and #5. Thanks for the reminder to pay attention. :)

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    1. Thanks Allysia - I am glad it resonated with you!

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