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6:40 PM - Tues 3.02.21

Kierkegaard Was Right (I Wish He'd Said Something Sooner)

Saw Nomadland with Jane R last week (My capsule review? Great movie - See it now and thank me later).

One of the marks of a great movie, in my mind, is you find yourself thinking about it for days/weeks after first seeing it.

And that has been the case with Nomadland - I've found myself thinking about the world the movie presented (And the notion of a loosely-knit, free-flowing "community"), the seamless interaction between professional actors (Francis McDormand, David Strathairn) and the real-life "nomads" of the title, the difficulties - and surprising pleasures - of the lifestyle, the socio-economic/psychological factors that might create a "nomad", etc.

I have even wondered, "Could I do that?" (My answer? It's very hard to imagine myself navigating what seems an extremely challenging existence...but that said, I was intrigued that something about the movie made me ponder the question).

But the thing I'm thinking about most since seeing the movie is the...I don't quite know how to say it...the "basic-ness" of the "nomad" life - There are no lofty goals you're working on, nothing you're trying to acquire (beyond the money you need just to keep rolling), no problems except the one in front of you at the moment, etc.

That was my biggest takeaway from the movie, likely because I've spent the past number of years thinking how I've lived my life, to paraphrase Kierkegaard, as if it were "a problem to be solved" rather than "a reality to be experienced".

Given my childhood, that doesn't seem an unreasonable view to take - It's pretty understandable that I didn't choose to see my life as something to just "settle into" and "experience", but as a "problem" that must have some sort of "solution" - and I think that notion probably saved me as a child (Giving me some sense of optimism that "It won't always be like this").

I think the "solution" to my difficult childhood became to see it as a story, casting myself as "Horatio Alger" before I even knew the reference (Some years ago, I read that "Children from troubled backgrounds often imagine grandiose futures" and I certainly fit the bill - from foster kid that nobody loved to rich and famous movie-star that everybody would love).

Now I'm a few months away from turning sixty (!), and I'm not going to be rich-and-famous (If I had to pick at this point - If I got to pick - I'd definitely pick "rich" over "famous"), everybody is not going to "love me", and pretty much nothing I thought would "solve" the problem of life is going to happen for me (And of course, I realize that wouldn't "solve" anything because that's not actually how it works).

(Well, hopefully being "rich" would at least solve the "problem" of a chronic fear of financial disaster, but you know what I mean...)

So the appeal of living a life that doesn't need to be "solved", being able to drop the fantasy that "things will be okay when I get this or achieve that or accomplish the other thing", stuck with me.

The life depicted in Nomadland by no means seemed idyllic - far from it (As I've already said, I don't think I'd be constitutionally up to the challenges involved) - but as someone who's worried all his life about the future, who's wanted to get to some magical place where life "works out", a life lived almost entirely in the here-and-now...almost did seem like a "solution" to life.



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