Been sick at home for the past few days, having had to cancel a trip I was looking forward to for my mom’s birthday.
All I am doing, when I am not sleeping, is read and watch movies, mostly in Spanish. (Covid test Negative… phewww!)
I saw two old Spanish movies that are incredible and although old, feels so relevant.
One was the story of a woman married to a man who doesn’t know how to control his anger and beats her. What is incredible about this movie is that you get to see the struggle of the man (as well as the woman). The subdued woman who lives perpetually in fear. And the man who doesn’t know what to do with his thoughts and feelings of inferiority, jealousy, anger and has clearly learned to bully. This looks familiar, having grown up in Iran but what I realize is that this toxic masculinity has no borders. Iran, Spain, USA. In this movie, although you can’t help but hate the man and find yourself rooting for her to leave him but I could also see the immense pain of this man who didn’t know what to do with himself and who wanted desperately to change.
Today, I saw Mar adentro (the sea inside). One of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. The story (Which is a true one indeed), the characters, the incredible acting, the music (which is amazingly composed by the director himself, Alejandro Amenábar).
I find that conversations around death and suicide are such taboo. The idea of death is so painful and permanent for us that we don’t really want to think about it or talk about it. My mom refuses to let me finish a sentence that starts with “if I die… or when I die”. she interrupts me and says “I don’t want to hear it”
This movie is the true story of a man who became a quadriplegic in his 20s and fought the next 29 years of his life for the right to assisted-suicide (since he couldn’t kill himself by himself) which was denied in every Spanish court.
Somehow suicide is heavily looked down at. Perhaps some think of it as a failure. In one part of the movie, a priest who is also a quadriplegic tries to convince Ramon (the main character) that life is worth living. That perhaps he is not getting enough love or attention, which of course makes his family and friends who lovingly care for him feel humiliated.
Can we really tell someone that life is worth living? Is life experienced by one person, perceived through the combination of thoughts, beliefs, feelings, hormones, neurons, habits, personality of one person is the same as another?
In another part of the movie, Ramon who is overall a mild mannered, very lovable, smiling man is distraught, crying and saying over and over “why can’t I be like others? why do I want to die?”
I can’t even imagine how I would feel about my life if I was confined to a bed, unable to move any part of my body except my head, totally dependent on others for all my basic needs.
A part of me hopes that maybe even in that situation I can find happiness by questioning and not believing the thoughts that cause me suffering such as “I shouldn’t be dependent on others”, or “life is better if I could walk”, etc. Thoughts that would make me compare my life to others or my previous life.
But no one can know unless you are in it. Even now, being perfectly healthy, as hard as I try to do all that I have learned to stay sane and not suffer, I suffer at times. I suffer believing the thoughts that go through my head, that my life should look this way or that way. The comparisons that come up in my head.
Some days, I suffer immensely because I can’t shake off the sadness or purposelessness that envelopes me. On those days I wonder if maybe my hormones are off, maybe my serotonin is low, maybe genetically I am predisposed to days of being down.
All of this leaves me with this realization, if with all I know as a doctor, yogi, meditator, doing everything to take care of my mental and physical health, I still get so depressed or anxious or enveloped in utter pain, how can I judge someone else? How can I really know what is going on in someone’s head and what they have done to help themselves or not?
If I can find even the slightest amount of compassion and self love at times when my brain becomes an utter judgmental bitch, then maybe I can be compassionate to others whatever they are going through. Wether it is the one who wants to kill himself, the one who stays in an abusive relationship, or the one who is learned to abuse.
If anyone is looking for some great movies to watch and you don’t mind subtitles, I highly recommend “Mar Adentro” and “Te doy mis ojos”.
2 Replies to “Thoughts on Two Spanish Movies”
Always love your honesty, your vulnerability, your compassion as it comes through in your blogs. I was listening to a podcast (I know, what else is new), and the speaker postulated that our modern western society sets us up to be in this position of questioning our purpose. If you look at other, more communal societies, everyone has a role, from the youngest to the oldest, and therefore everyone is imbued with a purpose. We don’t really have that, do we? My mission is always to try to alleviate myself of blame and guilt, because I do think a lot of our suffering is contextual and not so much uniquely organic from our own being, independent of the whole.
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Thank you Kk! I see what you are saying. That’s interesting. I do see that the feeling of lack of purpose seems to be really rampant nowadays and regardless of what people are doing, whether busy raising children, or being a physician (whom everyone would think must feel fulfilled in their role as a healer/helper) the feeling still emerges. I do agree that the setting we live in these days must contribute to this. The individualistic and competitive nature of our culture these days as opposed to the more communal way. I love your mission 🙂 I think guilt and blame do nothing to help us or the society we are in. Thanks for sharing your thoughts which I always love to hear.