Saturday, March 27, 2010

Departures and Other Comings and Goings

We saw a film called Departures last night.  It's a Japanese film about a man who is fired from his job as a cellist with a big Tokyo orchestra.  To make ends meet, he and his wife move back to his home town, and he takes a job as an NK agent.  Based on the ad in the paper, he thinks an NK agent is a travel agent, but as he finds out later, it's a person who prepares a body for burial. 

As a former hospice worker and someone who has lost very close family members, I was moved by the man's journey through the movie.  At first, the job repulsed him.  But he came to love the job and even defend it to others who thought it was bizarre or unclean.  I balled over a lipstick scene that caught me offguard because of my own mother's funeral.  (Note to others: always discuss the color of the lipstick with the funeral home before they put it on!)

But the theme of departures is what really hooked me.  I've witnessed a lot of departures in my own life.  More, I think, than the average thirty-something.  We've moved at least five times in our marriage; I've held three (four if you count homemaker, a dubious title at best) jobs over those years; I've lost a mother, grandmother, father-in-law, several pets to death; I've left behind more friends than I can count; and our son was diagnosed with diabetes (a departure from good health forevermore). 

Some departures were good.  They brought fresh change and welcome challenges.  Some were not so good, even downright bad.  But they all brought stress, because they were all outside of my control.

I long for a departure that I choreograph.  A departure from the hectic life that has led us to this moment in time, a departure from everything that creates havoc in our lives, a departure from a conservative culture that we don't feel comfortable in, a departure from obligations and expectations that seem so trivial compared to the obligation to our own moral center, our emotional well-being, and our children's development.  Instead, I'm grounded.  Like a large, flightless bird, I run around in circles, but I don't get off the ground.

So I write.  Deep down, this is why I write.  It is my small attempt to fly.  To depart the world that sometimes presses down so hard and squeezes me into a tight ball.

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