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Our life as a movie

Are you part of the group of people who can easily stay awake for an entire movie or are you like me and may need to spread it over a couple of evenings? I was in my 20s when the Lord of the Rings movies came out and I remember one day when some friends and I had a trilogy marathon and watched them all in one go - a good nine hours of movie watching. Nine hours! Without falling asleep even once. Today, I can hardly remember the last time I watched an entire movie from start to finish.

But what I often can remember is if something I’ve watched has touched me a little extra. One such thing was a scene from the movie "Shall we dance?" from 2004. In this film, Beverly (played by Susan Sarandon) fears that her husband, John (played by Richard Gere), is having an affair and she therefore hires a private detective to find out if this is true or not. In this particular scene, Beverly is having a drink with the detective and they are talking about why, despite all these promises that we make and break, people actually choose to get married. Is it passion?

But then she explains that it is because we all need a witness to our lives. ”There’s a billion people on the planet and what does any one life really mean?” she says. ”But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything, the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all the time, every day. You’re saying, your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.”

The context of this movie is marriage and witnessing each other's ups and downs. But I don't think you have to be married to be a witness in someone's life. Some people have more insight than others into what is going on in our everyday lives and what we’re thinking and feeling, but maybe it could just as well be a friend or a sibling as a partner. Or someone else entirely.

I think this is about feeling seen. And being seen can be really big and deep and overwhelming and raw and vulnerable. But it's also big to be the one who gets to receive the gift of seeing, who gets to stand by and witness another person in the celebrations, the challenges, the pains and the joys she experiences.

I also think that it can often be the small gestures in our everyday lives that make us feel seen, and that it doesn't even always have to be by someone we know. It could be someone holding eye contact a few seconds too long and smiling; a friendly hand on one's shoulder or an unexpected compliment; someone asking how the dreaded dentist appointment went when we return to the waiting room; a door that is being opened for us when our hands are full; someone sending us a photo when visiting a place they know we like, or who notices something about us that others overlook.

Contributing or giving to others counts as a human need, and one way to do it when we interact with another person is to hold the intention that he or she will feel seen and valued during the time we meet, regardless if it’s in a long talk over a cup of tea or in the queue at the supermarket.

And for all of us who often keep going and try to manage things on our own, here's a reminder that it's okay to ask to be seen and heard. These also count as human needs and when we have the courage to ask for those needs to be met, we also offer others the gift to give.

What makes you feel seen?

In warmth and gratitude,

Karolina


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