The Beaver is a film about meaning, purpose, connection, losing your way, and finding it again - all themes that strike very close to my heart. It's a story about a family unravelling because the people in it are lost, confused, hopeless, and at the end of their rope - and how they reach a breaking point only to find that it is exactly what they need to rebuild.
After the movie I kept thinking about what the main character, Walter Black said:
"We reach a point where, in order to go on, we have to wipe the slate clean. We start to see ourselves as a box that we're trapped inside and no matter how we try and escape, self help, therapy, drugs, we just sink further and further down. The only way to truly break out of the box is to get rid of it all together... I mean, you built it in the first place. If the people around you are breaking your spirit, who needs them? Your wife who pretends to love you, your son who can't even stand you. I mean, put them out of their misery. Starting over isn't crazy. Crazy is being miserable and walking around half asleep, numb, day after day after day. Crazy is pretending to be happy. Pretending that the way things are is the way they have to be for the rest of your bleeding life." -Walter Black, The Beaver (2011)
And I couldn't help but be reminded about what two of my favourite writers had to say on this subject of ruin and rebuilding:
“A friend took me to the most amazing place the other day. It’s called the Augusteum. Octavian Augustus built it to house his remains. When the barbarians came they trashed it a long with everything else. The great Augustus, Rome’s first true great emperor. How could he have imagined that Rome, the whole world as far as he was concerned, would be in ruins. It’s one of the quietest, loneliest places in Rome. The city has grown up around it over the centuries. It feels like a precious wound, a heartbreak you won’t let go of because it hurts too good. We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Then I looked at around to this place, at the chaos it has endured – the way it has been adapted, burned, pillaged and found a way to build itself back up again. And I was reassured, maybe my life hasn’t been so chaotic, it’s just the world that is, and the real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat. Pray. Love
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I think instinctively, we all want to settle for 'safe'. The idea of starting again and leaving behind everything we've worked for and built away is a scary, painful thought - it feels like losing a part of yourself - losing all the things that used to define you. But what if leaving the past behind and starting again is exactly what we need? What if it is when we feel like we're losing ourselves that we find who we truly are?
I need this reminder daily. I need to remind myself it's okay to change. It's okay to 're' - rebuild, restore, revamp, re-examine, revoke, retry. I'm not a finished product - I'm a work in progress. And like any work in progress, it's okay to throw everything out and start again. In fact, sometimes it's not just okay, it's essential if you want the finished product to be anything worthwhile.