How the Oscar nominated film 'HER' by Spike Jonze portrays the inherent desire in us all.
As the 86th Academy Awards are merely days away, a few moments from the cinematically pioneering, Oscar nominated film remains in my thoughts and I pondered the questions they generated long after I viewed it. This is one of those moments.
I should caution you, this is not a review of the film. But, rather a prompted discussion brought about by the protagonist Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) a lonely writer, his love interest; Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), a lovely voice operating system, and her proposed question about humanity, love, and connection.
"How do you share your life with somebody?"
As humans we have the desire to share our lives with someone. Yes, even those people who proclaim they rather die alone than get married or be in a relationship. There is the inherent desire in us all not live out our lives alone. Instead we desire to be loved, understood, cherished, valued, wanted, and fully connect with another human being. We all search for that sense of belonging. But, sharing your life with someone goes even further than that.
Wholly sharing your life with someone without inhibitions or fears is essentially the most vulnerable act one can commit. It's when you share those moments that are typically hidden from the rest of the world. The 'you with no make-up, in your PJs, with your night-guard on' moments. Moments of great pain, slamming doors, and your tears on their shirt. A pain you're more than willing do endure. We share these moments with the person who sees all your weaknesses and flaws, up-close and in person. But it's allowed because they don't judge you for it or use it against you, instead they uplift you. A life shared with the right person, in the right order, comes with the most rewards. However, too often today people rush into sharing their life with someone with no commitment of being a part of that life forever. You see, sharing your life with someone can be incredibly dangerous. Once that person you've completely shared your life with is gone, then that overwhelming feeling of alone comes rushing back in. Alone with the void that person left. People go to great lengths to eradicate that feeling from of their lives. Most of those methods never work, just as we witnessed in Her.
This typically happens because we are not fully whole in ourself. Therefore, we seek to find completion in another who is just as flawed as we are. Theodore sought completion in Samantha. Despite being an operated system, she had flaws as well. Instead of healing ourselves and becoming whole, we too often seek the next easy fix. Just filling the space that person left with another imperfect person. In Theodore's case; a voice. Theodore's estranged wife (Rooney Mara) blatantly stated, "You always wanted a wife without dealing with any of the challenges of being with someone who's actually real." Perhaps we should stop taking the 'easy way' and truly work on ourselves beforehand. You must first be whole in yourself, in who God created you to be, before ever attempting to share your life with another person and truly work at it. Two broken pieces can never make a whole one.
Often instead of healing, we distract ourselves from the brokenness. The social commentary of this film certainly rings true. With the onslaught of technological advancements, I constantly question; has the means of connecting us become the very thing that isolates us? Are we so desperate for this fulfillment of common communion with another person that we have turned to a machine? Today it seems like our smartphones and technological devices have become our significant others. Sadly these may be the relationships we nurture the most. We spend the most time looking into a screen, not another's eyes. Holding our phones, not another's hand. Writing a status to hundreds or thousands of 'friends', not sharing a deep, meaningful thought with a loved one.
Personally, my writing is the most intimate way for another to discover who I am, the deepest parts of me. As a person whose writing is my greatest means of expression to other people, I found it intriguing yet disheartening that Theodore's very profession is writing personal love letters for other people. That just takes greeting cards to a whole new level. Have we forgotten how to express our love for each other that we need someone else to do it for us?
There was a time years a go when my writings weren't shared with anyone. Then during a time which I shared my life with someone, I released this vulnerable part of me had to be shared also. Much of my life and myself has changed since then. Now it's necessary for me to boldly pitch screenplays and written ideas to others in order to portray the vision. Although every script, poem, or essay much like this one, is absolutely a deep part of who I am, it seems to no longer be that vulnerable, personal act with one person. I'll admit, I miss that. That person becomes the the one who watch you work at something and encourages you to keep going. Then there's that look in their eyes when you finally achieve it. I believe one day, at the right time, I will share those moments again. But, thankfully I can now share my work with many, in hopes it will touch more than one.
Yes, I too have known what it's like to share my life with someone. I also know what it means to be alone. I even know what it feels like to be alone when you're with someone. Although I may be alone, or single, or whatever term the world wants to call it, I am actually not alone at all.
Something changes when you have to solely rely on yourself and God. When you're not woken up by someone next to you or the voice of an operating system, but it's you that has to pick yourself up and push forward. At the end of the day, you have to answer for yourself and what you're doing with the life you've been given. No one else.
As I stated, I am not alone. I am very blessed to share my life with my greatest supporters; my closest family and friends. They may not completely understand what I am working towards; I can't necessarily discuss film terminology with them, but that doesn't change their desire to see me succeed.
Returning back to that enchanting yet intrinsic scene of Theodore revealing his feelings of marriage and the flashbacks which overplayed of those times. I was taken in as similar memories played in my own mind. But then the peace and motivation of the life I currently hold overpowered those memories. I thought, if an OS or even a person asked me that same question, how would I respond?
I would say by first being truly and wholly okay with sharing your life with just you, in order to completely and fearlessly share your live with somebody, and wait for that right somebody.
- Jennifer Joy O'Grady