Choose Life

T2: Trainspotting got a limited release in America last week, and I finally went to see it this Friday. Phenomenal film. It was both a love letter to the first and something entirely new on its own.

One particular scene, however, hit me hardest.

I’m sure we all can remember the iconic opening lines of the first Trainspotting. “Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family…” In this simple monologue, Ewan McGregor encapsulates the painless tedium of suburban life, and uses it not to criticize us living it, but instead to make his point that anything is better than heroin addiction.

In the updated version of this speech, McGregor’s character, Renton, has been through the suburban “dream-life” that he chose at the end of the first film, and has still come out disappointed. He has realized that maybe the ideal life of the modern day isn’t all it’s made out to be. So, in a poetic, “choose-life” format, he expresses the pain he feels with never getting what he truly wanted.

“Choose disappointment and choose losing the ones you love. As they fall from view a piece of you dies with them. And so you can see that one day in the future, piece by piece they will all be gone, and there’ll be nothing left of you to call alive or dead.”

We’ve all experienced this in our lives, whether it was losing our mother to cancer or losing our best friend because they went off to a different college, we all feel as though a piece of us dies when we lose someone we love. This theme is often conveyed in literature (think the “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” scene in Les Miserables and All Quiet on the Western Front. Think Looking For Alaska and A Monster Calls), and if done right, it plays out really well.

Losing the ones we love can be difficult, attempting to move on even more painful, but as Frank Sinatra would say, “That’s Life.” It’s wrong, and it shouldn’t be normal, or accepted, but unfortunately, it is. No one can discount what you have gone through or are going through right now, but sometimes it just happens.

Also, how you react to such a situation can often say a lot about you as a person. Do you bounce back, ultimately powering through on your own? Or maybe you confide in trusted others to guide you through the darkness? Or do you turn to unhealthy coping?

The best (in my opinion) way to get through such a situation is to remember that although you lost someone you love, he/she was not the only person like that in your life. You still have other friends, family members, and co-workers who care about your well being and want to stay in your life. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our own grief that we forget about the ones who want to help us, and we push them away. If you instead embrace their help, things may work out better.

In sum, I very much encourage all of you to go out and see this film, and also to pay particular attention in this scene. I know it really spoke to me, so I’m curious to see what it does for you.

WRITING PROMPT #2

Write your own “Choose Life” monologue. Think creatively, look around, and work unusual objects into the poem (for example, “choose Lay’s potato chips, hoping that maybe the comfort you get from stuffing your face will match something remotely close to that of human connection.”). As long as it has a point, it should be good. So play around, have fun with it!

WRITING PROMPT #3

Think about someone you love that you lost again. This time, instead of dwelling on the grief in losing them, write about the ways in which others did (or could have) help(ed) you. Then, write a no-send letter of gratitude to those who helped you for being in your life.

Check back later this week for more updates on I Had to Find My Angel, I’ll be starting to work with one of my teachers on it and hopefully some serious edits will be made. All in all, have a good day, and choose life.

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