Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Intersecting stories

"And yet I saw on  his face that within there was a book worth studying."
Thomas Hardy, Two on a Tower

A few nights ago I led a discussion about the 1980 South African film The Gods Must Be Crazy. This slapstick comedy may not seem a likely topic for thoughtful conversation, yet it triggered a lively discussion. One of the ideas we touched on was that each life is a story that becomes more interesting, and in most cases more positive, as it intersects with other lives and other stories.

The movie's three main characters include a member of a tribe of Bushmen who decides a Coke bottle found in the desert must be an Evil Thing, so he determines for the good of his people to take it to the end of the world and throw it off, a South African journalist who gives up her career to become a teacher in Botswana and a scientist, painfully shy around women, who is talked into meeting the teacher and taking her to her school. The three people, each having abandoned a familiar and comfortable life, ventures into the unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Their lives intersect, and along the way each becomes a blessing to the other two and, most importantly, to a group of children held hostage by rebels.

Every movie, but for those rare exceptions such as the recent one-character Robert Redford film All Is Lost, have to do with intersecting lives. That is what most stories are about, including Thomas Hardy's Two on a Tower. The bishop who says the above words about a young astronomer is about to have a profound impact on the young man's life story, and vice versa.

I like thinking about each person's life as a book, a book that we can help write.

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