Over the years, (oh God I’m actually old enough to say ‘over the years'), I’ve written about the movie IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, don’t worry this is not a belated Christmas post. Anyway, that movie has been in my mind because of the season so I thought I’d write about it again because for me, many years ago, watching it was life changing. Whether you think Capra’s flick is over the top and sentimental means little because the core of the movie, that each one of us has worth and impact on others, is eye opening.
I remember the moment in my life, almost 1am, watching the movie by myself, decades ago, when the scene, Clarence takes George to the graveyard and shows him his brother Harry’s grave.
“My brother saved 2000 men on that transport,” George shouts at Clarence.
“Every man on that transport died because you weren’t there to save Harry,” Clarence shouts back.
I literally gasped because of the power behind the meaning. Turn left, turn right, pull someone back up on the curb as a semi speeds by, hit the brakes instead of running the red light as a schoolbus full of kids crosses the intersection, or save your nine year old brother from drowning; you just might save thousands.
It’s hard to imagine the impact we have on others. For writers we sometimes are able, through feedback and comments from readers, realize the impact of our words, because someone tells us, “What you wrote changed my life.”
I had someone tell me that once, it involved a father and a son and a reconciliation spurred by something I wrote. Words written with no more thought than, it’s suited the essay and I knew it would be published, changed those men and how they related to each other. I’m proud of that, I mean, I’m really proud of that.
A few years back one of my pieces was published on Christmas Day and soon after, I heard from friends who said their priest read from it during mass. A PRIEST and I’m not even catholic. I thought about all those sleepy people sitting in their pews aching for the perfect Christmas words to set right, or enhance their lives, and then the priest reads my words. WOW. Actually most of the folks were probably hoping for the mass to be done so they could go back home and doze on the couch.
I know, as should every writer, that our words have power. So…after I watched the movie, again this year, I thought about attempting to write something as important as IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. That story is based on the short story, THE GREATEST GIFT, written by Philip Van Doren Stern, which last year, I found and read. Needless to say, but I will anyway, I liked the movie better.
To write something as moving and as powerful seems like an impossible task but I am going to try. I have come up with an idea and have started the project. I am writing what I want to read, what I wish someone had already written, because at one time in my life I needed someone to say the words I'm writing, to me. I have lived what I am writing about; it changed my life, and my perspective on it might just help alter someone else’s.
Once the story is finished I am wondering where to gently place it. For that, I wait. When the time comes I will know.
For George, his story illustrates how the simplest of acts has profound meaning. In my story, believing in the divinely-absurd creates a path through unfathomable loss.
Happy New Year to all. May we all find meaning in our actions.