Ad Astra: To the Stars

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The moon one beautiful Jimei night.

“THE WORDS THAT NEVER GET SPOKEN to a loved one will remain inside of you always. They become part of your inner dialog, emerging periodically to your consciousness like buried treasure, whenever you think of that person who is no longer in your life.” 

These lines from  moviejoltz’s  review of Ad Astra made me want to watch the movie, and I did. When I first heard of this Brad Pitt movie, I was not keen on watching it because I am not a Brad Pitt fan.  But after watching this movie, I can honestly say I like how Brad Pitt played his character, Roy McBride, so well that I forgot him as an actor and just saw Roy the cold and lonely astronaut.

All throughout the movie, the character’s isolation, loneliness is apparent even in his smile, in his politeness and composure, and that isolation/loneliness has been brought on by the uncertainty of the fate of his father who had left earth and never came back.

There are three themes that made me like this movie: one-sided devotion, stubborn pursuit of a  dream, and attitudes toward failure and success.

How many of us, in our youth, have experienced being devoted to somebody — spending day and night thinking about that person, wondering what they were doing that very minute and if they were thinking about us too. Then we find out that that somebody has been living their life and has not had time to think about us. Roy, in his 40’s, had not been able to fully live his life as the pain of losing his father in his youth had somehow made him build an emotional fortress around himself making him stoic in the face of many challenges. Then when he finally saw his father again, he realized how all these years when he thought his father was dead without being able to say goodbye, his father was alive and consumed by his dream of finding intelligent life in another planet, with not much room in his mind for his only child. Yet Roy as a grown man, only remembered his father’s words, “I love you, son” and told his father, “I still love you, dad.”‘ He was a young man when his father left him, and his heart remained a young man when he saw his father again, still filled with love for the father who had abandoned him.

Clifford McBride’s stubbornness in pursuing his dream of finding intelligent life in another planet even though it was already clear that there was none, is no different from the many different people’s insistence on finding something that is not there or achieving something that is obviously unachievable. Where some people easily give up on their dreams, others, for whatever reason, will fight to the end achieving that dream even if it meant leaving everything else that used to mean something to them — even family. And Clifford McBride did just that, in the end he lost everything but the love of his son, which would have been enough but sadly, it wasn’t for him.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the conversation between Roy and his father when his father finally admitted to Roy that he had failed in finding intelligent life in Neptune, to which Roy answered: “You didn’t. We’re all we’ve got.” And this shows a very clear contrast in the way the two men viewed failure and success. The father viewed “not finding” a failure. He could not see that the proof that there’s none is a form of success. But his son did. (If you’ve ever read my Not About Me page, this is exactly how I view my “failures” in life.)

After watching this movie I said to my husband, this story would still be good if it were set on earth, and not in space. Instead of flying from earth to the moon, from the moon to Mars, then Neptune, Roy could have traveled from California to Maryland, or from Kansas to Uganda. But then the title wouldn’t be AD ASTRA which is Latin for “To the stars,” from the expression “Ad astra per aspera” (literally, to the stars through difficulties.) Roy literally went to the stars through numerous difficulties which he all amazingly overcame. But then again, because it is set in outer space which involves a lot of science stuff, I simply focused on the drama part of the story and was not concerned about whether the science of it was right or wrong.

This is the first Brad Pitt movie that I have watched and truly liked, and one I don’t mind watching again.

Passion vs Commitment

Today I read a passage about following rules to show one’s faith or having passion about your faith. The writer didn’t like the idea that rules, after being observed mechanically “can be followed with minimal effort and almost no thought.” Passion is deemed more important.

This made me think about how people often prefer the definition of love as an emotion, particularly passion, rather than as commitment, especially in marriage.

Emotions are unreliable.

You cannot force yourself to be passionate about something. You cannot will passion. But you can will yourself to do something even if you have no passion for it.

Marriage is not for grown ups who think like kids. They are not for people who think of their partners as toys they can get rid of once they lose interest in it and find it boring.

Growing up with a mother who had no qualms talking about her problems with her then young daughters, I knew from a young age that marriage had its ups and downs (especially because my mother was such a drama queen and I say that with no disrespect but with a fondness for her whom I miss every day still, even years after she passed on.) There were days when she and my father were this sweet couple, slow dancing to a Nat King Cole song. And there were days she did not speak to him at all

Had my parents given up on each other after their first or hundredth fight, I wouldn’t have been here in this world. And my mother wouldn’t have been there holding my father’s hand on the night he died.

They were married 35 years and were each other’s best friend. I know there were times they both felt they could no longer stand each other, probably questioned whether they still loved each other whenever they had a fight, but as devout Catholics in a country with no divorce laws, they remained committed to staying together, if not for themselves, then for their daughters. And it was the right decision to stay together as they became even closer after my father was diagnosed with a heart disease. My mother took very good care of my father in the last few years of his life, and mourned him for a long time after he died. Even though she complained about my father so many times whenever they fought, when he died, she just remembered how good my father was to her.

If we only rely on our emotions, none of our relationships will be safe from falling apart. Rules may be rigid, but they can help us from going astray. Passions will fade, but if two people in a relationship are both committed to each other, then they will work to keep that relationship strong.

The Sun: A Haiku

Do not get too close.

It will burn you and blind you,

Farther — gives you warmth.

—–

Some people are better seen (or heard) from a distance, too. 😛

(Btw, the framing of this picture is far from perfect as I wasn’t even looking up when I took the picture! Just pointed my phone camera to where I felt the sun was and click! Hey! It wasn’t too bad!)

Have a lovely week! 💕

T.

Being alone in old age

“No one should be alone in their old age. But it is unavoidable.” Santiago in Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I think I have written on this theme before, but I am reminded of this again recently rereading Old Man and the Sea and also by something I saw while walking at the park one evening.

While walking at the park a few evenings ago, when the lights had not been turned on yet although it was already a little dark (the lights are turned on at 6:30 in the evening), I saw this tiny, frail-looking white-haired woman, her back hunched, sitting alone on a bench under a tree.

I don’t know her story, maybe it’s not a sad one, but it made me think how at my age now, I love having a “ME” time — being alone during the day and certain of company later in the day when my husband comes home, having someone to talk with about how our day went.

Many times I have heard parents of young children and teenagers complaining about how they don’t have time for themselves and cannot wait for the time when their children become adults and leave the house. But I have also heard many older parents who talk about missing their adult children and hoping, waiting for them to visit or even just call.

Sometimes we behave as if we will always be what we are at present — strong, healthy, not needing anybody. I think the more often we remind ourselves that one day we will need company, one day we will need help, one day we will miss our children, one day we will fear being alone — the more gracious we will be in living our present lives, and the kinder we will be to people whom we think we have no need for at present.

Sure, aging parents can be a burden sometimes, especially when they become demanding or even mean. But perhaps it is their illness that makes them so; they would probably never think of saying or doing these things when they still had full control of themselves. Perhaps they need compassion and understanding more than anything.

I learned this from my mother whose own mother disliked her when my grandmother was still strong and able. But when my grandmother became sick and unable to walk, my mother came and offered to help and forced us, her daughters to help as well. At first my grandmother still refused to talk to my mother but after a while she probably realized my mother was not going anywhere. They were able to forgive each other before my grandmother died. My mother’s humility in front of my grandmother and her sincerity in helping her in her hour of need made an impression on us, her children. My mother was not perfect, but we loved her and took care of her the best way we could. From her we learned that though your parents made mistakes, they did raise you the best way they knew how, and just as you have compassion on strangers who are suffering, you can be compassionate with the ones who loved you enough to try to give you a better life than the one they lived.

We are all going to grow old and weak, if we don’t leave this world earlier than expected.

The sooner we realize this, the more compassionate we will become.

Blessings. 🙏🏽

T.

On Unlikely Friendships

Recently I was told by someone they couldn’t believe I am friends with one of my best friends when we are so different from each other. What did we talk about?

I wasn’t able to give an answer that satisfied them (they have asked me this at least twice), so I got to thinking , why indeed?

The answer really is, we have known each other for years, and in those years we have talked a lot about everything — politics, religion, philosophy, music, movies, our families, our work, our worries and fears, things and people we love and hate — I can’t think of anything we have not talked about.

Isn’t that how friendships are formed?

We become friends with people who may seem different from us at first, but when we spend time to get to know them and for them to know us, we find that underneath the unimportant differences, we have more in common in our hopes and dreams, joys and sadness — in our humanity.

All it takes is listening: we listen to them, and they listen to us.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” — Aristotle

My three best friends and I may have very different temperaments, and we disagree with each other on so many things — but we respect each other’s views and accept each other as a friend with different views on things.

“A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.” — Baltasar Gracian

What I am most grateful for in my friendship with my 3 best friends is that they all have taught me, at different periods in my life, something that I find valuable, useful.

Apart from my son, these three have helped shape me into the person that I am now — one that is still not perfect but one that I like and respect.

Wouldn’t you feel blessed to have such friends?

Have a peaceful weekend!

T.

Ghosting

When I was younger, “ghosting” was not the term for when someone you had been chatting or texting with all of a sudden went quiet.

As an older person who has experienced being ghosted and ghosting someone, I realize “ghosting” is merely a one-sided view of the situation. The one who stops texting (A) does not think of her “indifference”as “ghosting” as she is just living her life. She does not see the need to text or contact because she is busy with other things.

If the other person she has been texting with (B) also has a busy life, her (A’s) absence or silence will not be an issue. But if B relies heavily on A’s “company,” then B will definitely see A’s silence as “ghosting.”

Is someone “ghosting” you? Or you just need more friends? 😉

Have a fun-filled weekend!

T.