Monday, June 02, 2014

Of a mingled yarn

Because I've had it in my Netflix queue for a while now, I finally watched the cult classic Harold and Maude without knowing what the storyline was. It actually cracked me up. Taking the issue of age difference to an extreme, it tells the story of a friendship-turned-romance between a death-obsessed young man and an 80-year-old free-spirited Holocaust survivor. It's super campy -- and I normally don't like camp. But it worked well for the story, and the dark humor had me laughing more than I expected I would. It's a heartwarming, bittersweet story about enjoying life, and I appreciated its stark honesty. It also had an awesome soundtrack almost entirely by Cat Stevens.

In a way, it reminded me of The Magician's Assistant, which I'd just finished reading. One of the few Ann Patchett books I haven't read, it was kind of a depressing story about the widower of a renowned magician. After his death, she flies from LA to Kansas to find out about the past he never discussed, and his family find out about the person he became after leaving them and never looking back.

Essentially, both have the same underlying "lesson": let go of restrictive social norms, carry departed loved ones close to your heart, and live life to the fullest.
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind. 
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends. 
(Shel Silverstein)

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