(Note: what follows will ruin Magnolia for you if you haven't seen it. It came out six years ago, but, hey fair warning. Also, I'm not really sure any of this makes any sense. At all. Even to me. But hey, fair warning.)
On a whim, I popped Magnolia into the multi-disc changer last night. Actually, Jonathan and I had a conversation about that movie a couple of weeks ago, so it was in the back of my head. It's been several years, I guess, since I sat down and really watched it, not just starting it while I was doing something else. I'd forgotten how simply powerful it is, how in the midst of the ordinary fucked-upness that our lives are, this completely unexpected (but expected) thing happens that redefines everything that's already happened, and everything that's about to.
This is the part, where, if I still worked with kids at the church, I'd tie all of this into a neat little message with three points you could tuck yourself in bed with and keep under your pillow. But I'd never have talked about Magnolia, and I don't work there anymore.
I finished the movie, and, like I did when I saw it in the theater, just sat with it for awhile. I didn't jump up to the next thing, I let it sink in, absorbed it until it felt tangible in my mind. And I started thinking about frogs. And rains of frogs, and how convenient it is for Phil and Stanley and Linda and Claudia and Jim that the frogs begin to fall at the exact moment when they're supposed to fall and free them from whatever it is that's holding them captive.
And how, in life, when the goddamned regret is swallowing you whole, when you get to the scene in the movie when you're pleading, 'this is the scene in the movie when you help me out,' the person on the other end is busy, too, with their own shit, with their own waiting for their own frogs, that they've got someone else on hold, telling them that this is their scene in their movie, and that as soon as they can get you off the line, they're looking around, hoping that somehow, someway, their service pistol will fall from the sky along with the frogs, because that's the way things work in the movie, right?
Then, in the midst of dwelling in that, I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity. What if I've been living my life without ever allowing for the possibility that frogs really could fall from the sky? That the dominant part of my personality wouldn't ever allow for such foolishness, for such implausibility, something so liberating that I would actually recoil to think of it. There is part of me, a part that I don't talk about, that I don't introduce at parties, that knows all of my secrets and believes none of the lies about the secrets, that used to scare me in the moments before I'd fall asleep, what Jung, I guess, called the shadow. It's not always bad, it's not always good, but it's always there. And now, that part, late at night in the last moments before I fall asleep, usually after too many cigarettes and too many drinks, remembers to remember, to remind me that frogs really do fall from the sky, every day, and, just like tinkerbell, if you believe hard enough, you can really make it happen. You really can make frogs fall out of the sky.
And when that realization comes, that maybe we really are just that powerful, I see those people still waiting on the phone, looking up at the cyan sky with expectant eyes, hoping maybe a pistol will fall, praying maybe a Messiah will drop, and there's nothing to say to them that will even make it sound like I'm speaking the same language. But then I look over and see this shadow, the same one that's been following the whole time, the one I only listened to in those fleeting moments before sleep, but heard all the time. He gives me an omniscient nod and I realize that I can't understand me before I know him. And the next thing I know, it's dawn and there's a lot of stuff on a previously blank screen that I always somehow knew was there, but never remembered to remember, and I'm more comfortable being me than I've ever been.