“The Great Beauty” And The Small Moments In Our Own Lives
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of watching La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty), an epic Italian film in the style of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, but with more cinematic greatness achieved by the advances in technology since the 1960s as well as a more existential examination of life. It was truly captivating and I am planning on a second viewing next week as the MFAH is bringing it back for an encore. Since I saw it, it has won a Golden Globe for the Best Foreign Language Film, something it truly deserves.
There are lots of scenes of Jep, the protagonist, sitting and staring out at his view of the Coliseum from the patio, smoking a cigarette in his apartment, or talking with his housekeeper. He has a life of leisure comprised of wild parties and social events, punctuated by moments of intense introspection and reflection on his life, what has happened, and what it all means.
Because these moments were part of a gloriously beautiful film, the scenery and lighting were not something I could relate to in the day-to-day playback of my own life. But I have often commented on the small moments of boredom and repetition we all experience. Those moments strung between the peaks and valleys we remember as memoir. We don’t think about taking our dog for a walk or volunteering at the food bank, while we do remember our vacations or the first time we saw our grandchild. These peaks and valleys tend to have emotional poignancy that authenticates the experience of our lives, while the small moments are the times for maintenance and reflection. Without them, I think we would live in a constant state of overwhelm.
Jep has nothing else to do but contemplate these moments, he doesn’t have to manage the industry of his own life. Even though Jep doesn’t have to contend with laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills and updating his Facebook profile, I was affected by the eloquence of the small moments of his life and wondered whether he had ceased to see the their magnificence. For the rest of us, we are consumed with these tasks.
I remind the people I work with about these moments and that they often make a good place to mine for memoir. What is it like to have dinner with your family? What is it like to walk through your house late at night, when the rooms are deserted? Or sit out on your patio, having a glass of wine and enjoying your own view? I think that as we become accustomed to a certain quality of life and it’s repetition, these moments becomes ordinary and our ability to see “The Great Beauty” dulls. I think it’s important to be aware of this and recognize there is great beauty in our lives and the generations that follow will want to know about these moment and how we see them.
Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.