Have you wondered if you were meant to be just exactly who you are? Did all the planets, and all the stars align on the day that you were born in order to produce you for whatever benefit to human kind that might come from your actions and legacy? If I was put here for a great purpose, then was I meant to carry around this burden of being deeply depressed, anxious, and unable to sleep at night?
This question frequently haunts the depressed and anxious. We sometimes wonder what we’ve done to deserve this anchor, the darkness that seems to follow us, drain us of energy, and engulf most or all of our enjoyment. One of my friends is an artist who eschews antidepressant medications because he believes his depressive episodes feed his creativity, and his art is the outlet of the darkness. How about you?
If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I’ve discussed resilience, lost perspective, and how we could limit the grasp of depression on our lives through mindfulness. Many times that means medicines plus exercise, or psychotherapy with a worthy therapist. One valuable lesson that my therapist taught me is that we can take control of our depression at time just by practicing awareness of what is happening to us, pausing the big DVR of our lives gives in order to give us an opportunity to put into perspective what is happening.
Another fact you may know about me is that I enjoy great movies, and this idea of accepting your destiny, even embracing it with all of its bumps and pitfalls may mean that we are made stronger and our lives enriched by what may lie just beyond the next hurdle. This week I saw the movie “Downsizing,” billed as a comedy, but not at all what I expected. Matt Damon stars as Paul Safranek, an Occupational Therapist who like many today is struggling financially to pay his debts. Paul and his wife hear about friends who have undergone “downsizing,” or cellular miniturization in order to consume less, help the planet to use less resources, as the human body becomes 5 inches tall. Paul feels with getting small he can stretch his life savings and provide a better new life for his family in a “small world.” If you suspend disbelief for just long enough to let the story wash over you, you will find Paul to be a good soul. He genuinely cares for people and in his new life he is hit with many unforeseen setbacks that test his decision to get small.
Damon’s character and this very thought-provoking new movie left me thinking about these lasting, important messages portrayed days after seeing the film. Paul is unflappable, and he meets some wonderful and strange people in the new small world. During his adventure he never questions “why me?” or opines “poor me!” for the setbacks. Instead his perspective, which comes at a pivotal point in this movie, is his belief that in fact the planets *did* align, the stars *were* just exactly where they were supposed to be, and life unfolded for him in its imperfect and very profound ways. I will admit that I am a big fan of Matt Damon, with the exception of some of the Bourne films which I found to be repetitive. This piece of wonderful cinematic storytelling is as powerful a work as was “Goodwill Hunting.” The message for those dealing with depression is that we can choose to recognize the hurdles. We may fall down, but that only means we must stand up when we are ready. We have experiences that are guiding us to take positive steps to minimize the duration of a bad episode of sadness or loss of functionality, and we move on to live another day. If you enjoy fantasy genre movies that leave you awestruck and a little pensive, then I recommend that you invest the two and a half hours to watch “Downsizing.” Then please, let us know if you had the same reaction I did, or a different perspective to add to this blog.