Some of my earliest memories of growing up take place while watching a film – whether at home (seeing Scream for the first time at home in 1997) or in the cinema. The first film I saw in the cinema was an animated feature called Rock – a – Doodle. To this day it is still a remarkably enjoyable show. However my main memory of being utterly enthralled by the cinema was in 1991/1992 sitting in a dark cinema screen at Yorkgate, Belfast and watching what remains my favourite film of all time; Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. From those opening moments of memory accompanied by a soft piano, up to the absolute majesty of the film’s iconic ballroom scene Tale as old as Time to the film’s ending I was sat in absolute awe of the magnificence of this spectacular piece of filmmaking. Who could forget the first time they saw the camera pan down through the ballroom and catch a glimpse of the glass ball at the bottom of the chandelier? Who was not sitting with an open mouth as we took in the full scope of the scene and it’s meaning? As I left the cinema that day I think I knew, even at that young age of four or five years that cinema would be one of my great loves in life.
This remains true today. My love for cinema has only grown over the years. While at university I studied Film Studies and found myself appreciating the craft more and more. To be honest I actually preferred the theory of film more so than the actual process of making a film. As I look back I see that even now I am still just that child sitting in the darkness watching their thoughts and feelings being projected onto a great screen for all to see. To this day when I am feeling emotions or feeling unable to put words to feelings my first stop is to put on a film which reminds me that such feelings and experiences are natural and that I am not alone in my joys or sorrows. This seems to be happening more and more often as I approach my thirtieth birthday.
Up to this point I have been thinking forward to my thirtieth with a relatively balanced mix of boredom and mild disinterest. It’s just another birthday. What is so different about it if anything? Yet as the date approaches I realise that my level of disinterest and boredom is fading and giving way to a heavier dose of panic! My go to film when this happens is the classic romance When Harry Met Sally.
There is a really wonderful scene in this film in which Sally (Meg Ryan) experiences a similar moment of panic when she hears that an ex-boyfriend is going to be married. She has a dawning realisation that when they were together it wasn’t that her boyfriend didn’t want to get married but rather he didn’t want to marry her. If you’re like me then this moment of the film will reduce you to tears. What an awful feeling that must be. She goes on to tell Harry about she is going to be forty soon and what has she got to look forward to? It’s a remarkably powerful scene. As she goes through a checklist of her (apparent) faults Harry takes each one and doesn’t so much refute them but rather shows how much he cares for her with these characteristics. He sees the good in one who cannot see the good in themselves. How beautiful. The more I watch of this film the more I find myself telling myself that this is what I want in my life. Nothing more than to love and to be loved.
I was having a conversation with a friend today and we were discussing family life. Something which has struck me quite strongly of late is the following: if a couple are talking of their hopes to have a child then this is all fine and well. If a single woman wishes to have a child or adopt a child then she is celebrated for being a strong figure of womanhood – and rightly so! However what would be the response if a man said that he wanted a baby; if he wanted to adopt a child alone? Would this be celebrated? I don’t know…but it has certainly left me with much food for thought. I hope to be a father someday…no, that doesn’t express it properly. All I want is to have a family of my own eventually – to love them and accept their love for me…that is all. To love and be loved. I don’t think that is too much to ask.
What this means is that this desire and drive will impact significantly on any relationship I enter into. That is a bullet which cannot be dodged and any relationship I enter into will involve throwing these cards out for the other to see. It doesn’t mean I plan on marrying every girl I go on a date with but rather it simply means that I must treat every one I encounter – family, friend, stranger, etc – with a total self giving love should I wish to be prepared for what I pray will occur someday. Unfortunately this raises it’s head more than ever as I approach my thirtieth birthday. For crying out loud even the Beast managed to achieve this by his 21st birthday!
I have no idea what the future holds for me. I know what I hope and pray it has in store but I cannot say with any degree of certainty. None of us know what tomorrow will bring. However what I do know is that every day before I lay my head down to sleep I offer up my prayers for the day. They vary from day to day however one which will be included every day is this simple prayer:
“Dear Lord; please give me the grace tomorrow to be a better man than I was today.”
As I approach my thirtieth birthday I hold onto a few worries and mild regrets. However they pale in comparison to the potential of what could be. Who knows, this time next year I could be married, engaged, preparing to be a father…or maybe even just still single. There is also the possibility that I will not be here at all. Regardless, wherever I end up let it always be known that as I approach my thirtieth year (which is significant let’s not lie!) that I will never give up hoping, I will never give up praying and I will never give up loving. Let my life be one where I love till I have nothing more to give.