“Can we watch Love Actually?”
Yes, she said.
“It’s just I haven’t seen it for a while and I feel like watching it,” I said, in a lame effort to justify myself.
When I write, I like to listen to playlists of epic soundtracks. That morning a song from Love Actually’s soundtrack came on. For some reason, it made my stomach ache. It was the kind of ache you get when you seriously consider how you’d feel if you lost someone who was irreplaceable.
It was more than melancholy. More potent than sadness.
This morning I was taking notes from Tim Kreider’s We Learn Nothing. One of the early essays is called “The Czar’s Daughter.” It’s about a man named Skelly, but really, it’s about friendship.
As I was reviewing it, another heart wrenching song from the same playlist came on: James Horner’s "Hymn to the Sea". From The Titanic.
Whether it was the power of Horner’s song, the truth of Kreider’s words, or more likely, a combination of the two, several passages had a disproportionate effect on me. So I thought I’d share them.
On understanding your friends:
“And knowing things about someone is not the same as knowing him.”
On what we try to hide, from ourselves and others:
“The Soul Toupee is that thing about ourselves we are most deeply embarrassed by and like to think we have cunningly concealed from the world, but which is, in fact, pitifully obvious to everyone who knows us.”
On how we can’t grasp the depth of another’s battles completely:
“He had to face more terrible monsters than most of us will ever have to know, and, in the end, he fought them to a draw. He kept them at bay, locked inside that house. They can never find me here. Like struggles to the death between submarine leviathans, it was a battle fought in utter darkness, invisible to the sight of the world. What tortures he suffered, and unimaginable depths of bravery he summoned, are known only, if He exists, to God.”
On how our friends lift us up:
“This is one of the things we rely on our friends for: to think better of us than we think of ourselves. It makes us feel better, but it also makes us be better; we try to be the person they believe we are. Skelly believed in his friends’ best selves.”
Kreider’s essays are penetrating. They carry you to the heights of existence—gratitude, happiness, love—and tumble you down to the bowels of our short time here—death, sadness, heartache.
I’ll leave you with one more observation from Kreider.
“… we only notice we’re alive when we’re reminded we’re going to die … I saw the same thing happen, in a more profound and lasting way, to my father when he was terminally ill: a lightening, an amused indifference to the nonsense that the rest of us think of as the serious business of the world.”