I saw the movie that is taking the world by storm the other night, and it has taken me several days to have some words to be able to describe my experience.
First let me say that I am not so much a popular movie buff. I do like some movies that happen to have fallen in the popular range, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings…those stories carry that mythical quality that appeals to my Hero’s Journey mentality. But most of the time, I will not see movies that most others see; I usually find them to be hollow. I certainly don’t attend first run movies in the theater unless there is some very good reason to see it on the big screen.
Avatar was one such occasion. A bit of a geek for visuals (I am an artist, after all), I wanted to see the new technology every one is talking about. Similar to when Star Wars first broke into the movie industry, Avatar is carrying a whole new ability to enter the film as if we are part of it, and this is due in no small part to the new computer and filming technologies used to make the movie.
It satisfied in that respect, totally. Avatar was eye candy from the beginning, and so the artist geek in me that totally gets off on the visuals was delighted. Completely. Very.
And now that I have acknowledged that, I want to deepen the conversation for a moment to the larger philosophical, ecological, and spiritual implications of the film.
Other innate aspects of me are my love of universal themes, my love of humanity, my love of the earth, and my innate awareness of my connection with All Creation. This movie appealed to those aspects, as well.
It interested me that the geek side of me was completely revved up…my geekiness seems to live in my head, at least that is where I feel it. It is a fascination with the pretty things, the distractions, the amazement at what we can create with our brilliant, curious minds. But the story, and the larger impact, I felt deep in my being. My experience was of being stretched like taffy from top of my head to the core of the earth, where I choose to ground my energy to the planet.
And perhaps that was intended on the part of the moviemakers. So much of the time I see humanity hanging out in our heads (what I call “the Penthouse”), a place up high with a fabulous view, where we don’t have to interact with the messy stuff that lay at our feet (the stuff of being human). We can hide in the penthouse, being fascinated with our mental constructs, believing we have control of our lives, inventing all kinds of brilliant (if flawed) philosophies and get rich quick schemes, and keeping ourselves “safe” from connecting with each other.
I see many using their bodies as a kind of walking prop that carries the penthouse around, not really grounding and connecting with the earth in the deep way we were intended to (and our ancestors used to do). I have done it, too, and feel I am rescuing myself now from the edge of making that way of life a habit for me. I have made no secret in the years I have been writing publicly that I feel this is a kind of madness, a sickness that has taken humanity away from our feelings of connection with the earth and with each other, resulting in disastrous consequences.
Seeing Avatar left me with a sense of fullness, but not over the top fullness. It was a fullness that my entire body, my entire Being could hold. It was a, “Wow, that was an amazing feat of technology, and hmmmmm, yes, that story is so familiar to my heart and belly, and therefore not a big deal”. I know for some the story will be a new awareness, and perhaps this is even one reason many are so deeply affected by the film. Perhaps the use of the new technology to appeal to both hemispheres of our brain, coupled with the deep and ancient nature of the story, was a guarantee that the messages would get through, in one way or another. For this I am glad.
An utterly visually beautiful film, an eye popping experience of technology….but what really felt important to ME was how old the story is…to me it is the ages-old tale of how we struggle in ourselves to feel as if we are in control of our own destinies, denying our connection to Source and All Creation, the web of life.
Do we flail about our whole lives, building walls around us, living in a box of our own creation, resisting the attempts of the universe to break though our self-imposed barriers? Or do we let the Light in; do we take the risk and surrender to love, opening to the inherent goodness of the universe and allowing ourselves to experience our connection with the All That Is? And what will be the consequences of those choices? To me, that is the essential message of this film.
The story in Avatar is as old as the hills….perhaps the most ancient story there is. I pray that each of us find our way back to the awareness and experience that we are all connected in this Web of Life. Therein lies our salvation.