Magic in the Moonlight
Finally, Woody Allen surpassed himself. “Magic in the moonlight”, perhaps the first one of his films with a happy ending. Nobody kills anybody, people in the end do not go on with their boring lives as if nothing had happened. The characters do not remain the same small, narrow-minded and shallow people, they were in the beginning, as if the events of the film haven’t touched them at all. Love triumphs, people change, forgive, start a new life. Optimism beats misery, the players make concessions together, they strip naked (figuratively) in front of each other and leave behind the weaknesses of the past. The characteristic “Woody Allen stress” is almost nonexistent.
And what about us? We watch the movie, trying to guess the end and just before the purification, the Catharsis (Κάθαρσις), we are concerned about the discussion of the protagonist with the “Deus Ex Machina”, his aunt. It is beneficial to have someone that knows you so well, understands you and wants what’s best for you. This debate is probably the most wise and profound thing Woody Allen has created. The aunt takes the role of Socrates, becomes the devil’s advocate, endorses from the beginning Stanley’s arguments and, throughout a dialogue with the concept “the only thing I know, is that I know nothing” (“ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα” in ancient Greek), she eventually makes him admit even to himself that he nourishes feelings for Sophie. And they live happily ever after.
What’s impressive in the whole film, though, is the absence of stress. The characters have Woody Allen elements, but none of them can be characterized as over-stressed. Nobody speaks quickly, nobody’s in a hurry to get to the end, no one seems to resent the fact that things unfold with a specific speed. That’s why I say that Woody finally surpassed himself. Because this lack of anxiety is a great virtue. Sometimes things are not as we want them to be. And, to be honest, most of the times, just the opposite of what you expect happens. And this creates stress. Stress which often becomes unbearable. We want to control everything, to know where we are going, to plan everything in our lives. This is a tragic mistake. First of all, it is impossible to happen. Thus, you will definitely be disappointed and will get more stressed by it. Secondly, stress always takes the place of other emotions. It cannot co-exist with anything else, it wants its own space and when we finally give stress the space it wants, it then requests an even greater space. It replaces everything inside of us, our optimism, our inner peace, appreciation of beautiful things in our lives. Stress blinds us and guides us the worst possible way.
Unfortunately, stress is a a necessary evil in our lives. We live with a watch in our hand, a clock beside the bed, a clock in our mobile phone, computer, microwave. On the wall, in the car, on the cross of each pharmacy. We’re always late, we should always run, someone is always unhappy with us and is chasing us. But, at least, let’s limit this paranoia in professional life, in five or maybe ten serious obligations each of us has during the day. Because, when stress overwhelms our personal life, our relaxation moments, our relationships, it becomes uncontrollable.
What’s the point in trying to predict how your date will go? And if you see that it does not go as you planned it would be, what’s the point in becoming stressed about it and trying to turn it in a direction that makes you feel more comfortable? You feel lonely, at times you lose hope, you feel like you’re suffocating, you want to finish, to move on, to change your situation. It’s totally justified. Everyone feels like that. Maybe more often, much more intensely than you imagine they do. You are not alone. We are all boiling in the same cauldron (greek expression meaning that we are all in the same situation). We are, as deep in the shit as everyone else, we are in a society that we built ourselves and that has long ago turned against us. It has eliminated our free time, it has crushed our dreams, it has destroyed our expectations to improve our quality of life. It has convinced us that the answer is stress. That, if we get stressed enough, we have hopes to save the situation, to get on time, to turn the game, to win.
It’s not like that at all. Stress is the enemy. Are you poor? Unemployed? Completely miserable? Single for years without being able to find another wretch like you to communicate? Tell them all to go to hell, to see the difference! Go out to have fun yourself, not to find a girl or a guy, or to please your friends with your company. You’re the important one. No one else. Relax. Any situation has its positives and negatives. And by being anxious, you can’t do anything. Take a deep breath, maybe two or three. As many as you need. Take a day off. From work, from life, from everything. Lay down anywhere it pleases you and think about it, find yourself. Find your limits, your real desires, separate the reality from daydreaming and your true dreams.
You want to be with George? Try it. Don’t give a rat’s ass about it; fucking chasing your dream, if you think you want to. Will you land on your face? You’ll get over it. Then it will happen again. I guarantee it. You’ll get over THAT one too. You will cry, you get miserable, you will fall asleep hugging a toilet full of your vomit and, the next day, your friends will send you photos of it. We will send drunken messages to your ex and will never get an answer. You will spend days after days in bed without even the desire to eat. That’s life and its called like that because you have to LIVE IT. You are obligated to do it and whichever road you choose, it’s YOUR road and it’s the correct one. But for God’s sake, don’t get stressed about it. Shit happens, whatever will be, will be. We are all sensitive, more or less, and the first 25 years are the hardest. After a while, you keep on facing the same situations, the same problems, the same shit in the head, your head or the others’. But you do not care. You’ve built your character, you’ve learnt your limits, you know when to tell people to go to hell, people and situations that make you feel bad. And you come to this state only with experience. Only by not being afraid of your shadow and your mistakes.
Just don’t be afraid to live…
Devils and Dust
It’s getting cold now, for good. Even here, in Piraeus. Slowly Autumn becomes Winter. We’re deep into the Jazz Season. Jazz, strolls in the center of Athens, coffee in warm, tasteful little Cafés, search of new acquaintances for the Winter. Long sleeve shirts and at night maybe a jacket. And, of course, lazy Sunday mood.
And in all of this, myself. Not only bisected, but tri-sected, maybe worse. In one month I have to start my military service and I’ve decided to end the (love) story with L. for good, someone could say that I’m finally in flirting mood. Relaxed mood, new perspectives for the future, calmness. But why am I still thinking about Munich? Why am I still living (in my imagination) in Salonica, in the same house that I spent last Winter and why do I want to go to Ioannina again?
We humans, we are very stubborn. We can’t seem to understand that something is over for good. We hang tightly on a situation and we don’t want to let go easily. We keep on living our stupid dreams, trying to ostentatiously ignore the fact that reality has no connection to them anymore. At the beginning, dreams and reality have a common point. You have a compass, you think that by following it, you will find happiness. Both of you think that. You fall in love, you get closer, you fall in love a little more. Slowly, dream and reality start to separate from each other. In your head, this should have happened. “This” would have made you happy. Why did the other thing happen instead? In the first signs of this phenomenon, you have to sit down and think. Only you, by yourself. You are alone in this. No friends, no family, no random guys, no experts. You and only you. How big is this differentiation? How far does it take you from your dreams? Is it your fault, is it the other person’s fault, is it noone’s fault?
The next step is to take a decision. Will you keep on fighting to go back to the path of your dreams, or will you admit your defeat and leave before it’s too late? Why do you always choose the first one and never the second? No matter how old you are, no matter how many times you’ve fallen on your face, you stubbornly insist on choosing the first one… Is it that difficult for you to say that you lost? Because you lost, bro, this is the end. Game over. Admit it. There’s no point in fighting anymore. And, goddammit, you’re not alone in all of this. There’s another human being at the other side. She/he is exactly like you, even if you don’t understand it. You have the same dreams, the same insecurities, the same problems. And both of you just declare that you want a human being to understand you, to feel you, to love you, maybe. A message in the morning, when you wake up, and one before you go to sleep. Just a “good morning” and a “good night”, it’s that simple. But you make it complex. You tried it, it didn’t work out. Let it go…
The adjustment is very difficult. It demands thousands of virtues, virtues that not all of us have. Basically, almost no one has them. Even after months that you think you are “clean”, you can backside easily. You can seek her/him out, you can send messages, search for her/him. Maybe you’ll get lucky. That’s your problem. The main problem thought is this: if you don’t do that, are you ready to go on? And if you are, when? What is better for you? To wait until you feel completely ready, or start searching for someone new and feel ready in the meantime? Which is more significant for you, loneliness or avoiding hurting another human being? As Ted from “How I Met Your Mother” says: “Everyone’s got some baggage”. You have yours, the other one has hers/his and you burden each other with them. But if the other one is serious about you and wants you to be there for him, what do you do? Do you wait to “feel ok” and you lose chances in favor of your ex? Or do you go face down into something that maybe, in the meantime, you’ll decide it doesn’t suit you and you end it ingloriously, having wearied and burdened the other person without any reason?
Relationships exist, without any doubt, to have a good time and feel good, not torture ourselves and definitely not stress ourselves about everything. I have proudly explained that, many times and in many different situations. The problems, though, begin, with the realization that both people are not in the same state. One is obviously excited, in love, makes plans for the future… And what about the other one? The other one makes plans for the past. And if the other person is good, interesting, serious and decent, your dilemma gets bigger, the decision more difficult. Is this the chance for a new beginning? Am I ready, though, to let myself go into a new relationship? And if the past comes back? It won’t come back, that’s for sure. But you’re a bit of an asshole, aren’t you? An asshole, a dreamer, a romantic, but mostly an asshole. Every time you go to sleep, you daydream that the next day your past will come to your feet. It will ask for your forgiveness, it will tell you that it loves you, that it wants you back together. And, in that case, what do you do with your new “conquest”, mister Asshole? Will you have the balls to say “no” to your past in favor of the present, or will you succumb for yet another time, hurting more people to fulfill your “dreams”?
Winter is coming… Time to move on.