But the time I reach this higher point, I can see the distant speck of the white van and I feel happy. The hormones secreted within my brain and nervous system, peptides, are activating my body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect. We know this process as the “endorphin rush.” If you are active at all, you know this as a welcome and pleasant feeling.
This whole movie scene gets played out internally each time I come over that final rise and start down the hill. I suddenly feel that heavy footfall, the brightness of spirit, the confidence or maybe pride coming down the home stretch of my journey. It is just like Daniel did in that final scene in Witness. I am embodied by his image and character, solid, sure, content. I was thinking yesterday about how often movies have amplified my life’s experience. How like theater, the arts, opera and myth, movies become portals to our experience, a way to see the big and small moments of our lives, from just a bit outside of ourselves.
There was a TV show named Northern Exposure. It started in 1990, and took place in a fictional town in Alaska called Cicely. If you have never seen it, you might take a peek. It is a wonderful blending of people, culture and ideas, and for TV, way ahead of the cultural curve. There was one particular show where a young Native American: Ed Chigliak, a man who is in training to be a Shaman, is visited by an elder of his tribe. Leonard, the elder, is asking about the white people’s stories. He comes from a society where story is like myth, it holds lessons, healing and cultural references that inform and companion his people. Ed, who lives among the white people of the town cannot answer Leonard’s question about where the stories are. The show follows this quest until the ending minutes where Ed, a budding filmmaker is sitting in a dark theater watching Citizen Kane, when Leonard comes in an sits beside him. I don’t remember exactly what is said, but it is clear that they both might understand that movies in Western Culture are our stories. Or at least one of the ways we hold our personal and cultural knowledge.
I would like to ask you to think for a moment of one, or twenty of those times where your own breathing life is blended with an image from a movie. Maybe one where the images seem to blur and become one.