curious cases

Last night I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It only took me three years to get around to seeing the movie, and I thought it was a fantastic film. (I should really be more current with these things, I know). I wanted to see it at a time when I could set aside three hours and actually watch it.
So, a contemplation that is three years late: How strange and radical would life be if we progressed as Benjamin Button? It presents many conundrums. Two people “growing old” — or rather, young — together could not care for one another once they reached an infant age, but would have to be looked after by their young-yet-elderly children. And as you progress backwards (an oxymoron) in the aging process, you’d learn backwards and eventually, like Mr. Button, fall into a state of dementia — much like the way we are hard-pressed to remember many people from our very early years.
One of my favorite scenes from the movie is a scenario about Button’s love interest, Daisy. It puts forth the value of every second, and how our actions and those of others are affected by one another:

Sometimes we’re on a collision course, and we just don’t know it. Whether it’s by accident or by design, there’s not a thing we can do about it. A woman in Paris was on her way to go shopping, but she had forgotten her coat – went back to get it. When she had gotten her coat, the phone had rung, so she’d stopped to answer it; talked for a couple of minutes. While the woman was on the phone, Daisy was rehearsing for a performance at the Paris Opera House. And while she was rehearsing, the woman, off the phone now, had gone outside to get a taxi. Now a taxi driver had dropped off a fare earlier and had stopped to get a cup of coffee. And all the while, Daisy was rehearsing. And this cab driver, who dropped off the earlier fare; who’d stopped to get the cup of coffee, had picked up the lady who was going to shopping, and had missed getting an earlier cab. The taxi had to stop for a man crossing the street, who had left for work five minutes later than he normally did, because he forgot to set off his alarm. While that man, late for work, was crossing the street, Daisy had finished rehearsing, and was taking a shower. And while Daisy was showering, the taxi was waiting outside a boutique for the woman to pick up a package, which hadn’t been wrapped yet, because the girl who was supposed to wrap it had broken up with her boyfriend the night before, and forgot.  

When the package was wrapped, the woman, who was back in the cab, was blocked by a delivery truck, all the while Daisy was getting dressed. The delivery truck pulled away and the taxi was able to move, while Daisy, the last to be dressed, waited for one of her friends, who had broken a shoelace. While the taxi was stopped, waiting for a traffic light, Daisy and her friend came out the back of the theater. And if only one thing had happened differently: if that shoelace hadn’t broken; or that delivery truck had moved moments earlier; or that package had been wrapped and ready, because the girl hadn’t broken up with her boyfriend; or that man had set his alarm and got up five minutes earlier; or that taxi driver hadn’t stopped for a cup of coffee; or that woman had remembered her coat, and got into an earlier cab, Daisy and her friend would’ve crossed the street, and the taxi would’ve driven by. But life being what it is – a series of intersecting lives and incidents, out of anyone’s control – that taxi did not go by, and that driver was momentarily distracted, and that taxi hit Daisy, and her leg was crushed.

As I was preparing to go out this morning, I thought about if my day would play out different had I slept in 10 minutes later. Or, if I had to wait for the shower’s water to heat up for 30 seconds more. If I hadn’t spilled milk on the floor, would I have made it to the coffee shop sooner and crossed paths with someone that decided to stay an extra 10 minutes, someone I hadn’t seen in 10 years? Life is so curious.

Button’s most memorable quote was toward the end, as we learn that the narrative letter being read throughout the film are words from Button to his daughter:

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again. 

That single quote made the whole three-hour movie worth it! 

If you, like me, haven’t seen this movie after three years — and if I haven’t spoiled the movie for you — I might recommend that you go to your local library (where I frugally rent all my movies from) and check. It. Out. (Better late than never!)

Here’s to promising that next time I write about something more current…


One thought on “curious cases

  1. The last few posts have been excellent and the pictures of home were spectacular in a way that only destruction and sadness can be. Thank you for the card and please forward me your new address ASAP. On a side note I took your advice and started a blog. It has been slow-going but I hope to improve quickly. Let me know what you think.

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