Friday, March 10, 2006


Existential Friday: Titanic

I guess it was an Oscar-season thing that the cable networks showed Titanic about 50 times in the past couple of weeks.

Mark you, I'm not complaining. In fact, I want to go on record as stating, unapologetically, that I think Titanic is a great movie. I loved it the first time, and I find that it holds up well under repeat viewings. I watched it again a few nights ago.

It's one of those movies that is thickly-textured enough that you can get something different from it when you watch it again.

This time I was particularly moved by the ending, when the old lady is on her deathbed and dreams that she's back on board the ship as her young, Kate Winslet self. In past viewings, I always felt that the old woman actress gave a performance that missed its mark: she was supposed to be wise, but came off as smug.

But, this time, I was struck by how true it probably is that old people don't see themselves as we see them: all shrunken and wizened and wrinkled, at best cute and Yoda-like. Part, maybe a big part, of an old person's self image must be a younger self, from whatever time it was that she was her best self.

That's why the old lady was so smug -- she was still beautiful young Kate Winslet trapped in an old lady's body.

I think I'm starting to get that. I still see myself as a guy in his early 30s.

Do you have a "best self time" yet, or is it still to come? Don't say "my best time will be when I'm old and shrunken and wizened." That would sound pretty smug.

best self physically? mentally? emotionally? spiritually? materially? hard to assess whether best self is likely behind or ahead of me without knowing which aspect of best is at issue.

msjnjd -- a tasty afghan stew
It's funny how frequently we are pondering similar things. Ever since I started blogging more, I've been wondering why it is that I focus so much on reminiscing about my mid-20s. I decided, though, that it was not necessarily my "best self time" (I was actually kind of a wanker) but the time when I had the most potential, the most number of doors open to me. And I squandered so many of those opportunities.

But ever since I had a child 2.5 years ago, I realize that now is my best self time. And every phase of parenthood gets better and better. I keep waiting for the time when I'll start yearning for "the old days" but, so far, whatever's going on right now has been the absolute best. Maybe when he hits adolescence, that'll change. :-)
I'm pretty old now. I always marvel that I'm still the same person as ever, be it my three-year old self or whatever. That's not smug, I hope. Just self-awareness.
To be honest, I fondly think on the time when I can be old, sitting in my rocker on the porch, and yell at kids to keep off my damn lawn. That's going to be an awesome time

But I would say that currently, I imagine myself as I was in high school, which was only about 9 years ago.
I've already fallen into that trap. I look at photos of myself from these days and say "that's not me" -- especially when I have those pinup girl shots from 13 years ago to fall back on (or even the ones from when I was 17). That's how I see myself, and probably how I always will.

And yes, Majorsteel - you've got about 9 years left of enjoying parenthood. Then, not so much. I have heard it does get better again once the kids have matured (when they get to be about 30, or have kids of their own, whichever comes first).

oaugyga (wow-GUY-ga) - A gigantic, flying, fire-breathing scallop that destroyed Tokyo and can only be defeated by Godzilla.
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