For a number of reasons I was drawn to watch the same film again and again. Five times in eleven days, in fact. La La Land is a hugely uplifting film imbued with the innocence of love, the naivety of dreams, and the single-minded determination which passion for anything brings. I found myself crying and laughing simultaneously, tapping my feet from the very start, and captivated throughout. I lost myself in the unspoken force of facial expressions, was touched deeply by the songs and the sentiment, and smiled with my whole body at the uncomplicated beauty of love and life. But this post is not about the film; it’s about what happens when you watch something closely and repeatedly. One’s own life, for example.
I noticed it during the fourth viewing. By that time I was able to focus more on what was happening in the background of scenes, or on anything other than what had captured my attention during the previous viewings. It struck me how relevant such an exercise is to our daily lives. Watch the same thing over and over again and you begin to notice details you hadn’t seen before; details which have been there all along. The closer you pay attention, the more you notice; and the more you notice (and the more often), the more you will know what you need to do. Be patient and observe, and the answers will come to you.
Unless your emotions get in the way. Whether it be the drama of life itself, a fondness for emotions, or an inability to control them, they can easily disrupt the process. Therefore, it was with great interest that I noticed my lack of emotions during the fourth viewing. The previous three had seen a film-by-film increase in my response to same things which always move me to tears: people being kind to each other; the joy and pain of being in love; the exquisite nature and depth of connection. However, fourth time around the film asked less of me because it asked less of my emotions. I missed them a little, but their absence meant I saw the events in front of me more clearly. I remember thinking to myself: ‘This must be how less emotional people see things.’
Emotions are wonderful things. They make us feel alive, and are signposts for our development, but we also benefit when they are still. A good example is the issue of taking things personally. When feedback is given which is not easy to hear (but nevertheless true) it can be difficult because we get wrapped up in the emotions of what has been said. See through those emotions, however, and you gain clarity. The more clarity you have, the more you will make of the feedback. When you observe your life closely, the feedback can be intense, so it’s important to practise seeing beyond the emotions whenever you can. As Karaj always used to say: ‘Be with them, but don’t indulge in them.’ (Unless you’re watching La La Land, then it’s fine.)
Going in to watch the film for a fifth time, I was curious to observe its effects on me. Curiosity, another requisite of self-development, heightens our awareness and deepens our learning. So be curious; observe your life closely and repeatedly; take in as much as you can; enjoy the spectacle; delve into the wonder of every situation; and feel the emotions – but don’t let them cloud your vision. That fifth visit provided a fitting conclusion to the whole experience because the emotions returned, but this time in a balanced way. And that is the key to all of this: attaining a balance of clarity and awe which allows us to see clearly who we are, yet still takes us to a place where we can behold the human experience in all its singing-and-dancing glory.