I saw the movie Boyhood last night. I liked it.
At the very end of it Mason, the kid we’ve just watched grow from 6 to 18, is shrooming with Nicole, a woman he meets on the first day of college. “We don’t seize the moment,” she says, “The moment seizes us.”
That’s not a spoiler because the movie can’t really have spoilers. It’s pretty much left unresolved. We don’t know what happens to Mason as he grows up. We don’t even know if he kisses Nicole. (He should. Even I, who has very rarely been present enough to actually notice when a woman wants to kiss me, unless very, very few women have wanted to kiss me in my life, which can’t possibly be the case, knew they wanted to kiss each other badly).
We don’t know what happens to the rest of Mason’s family. We don’t really know anything. We get no resolution at all, which makes it the most satisfying movie I’ve seen in a while.
Because we don’t know.
We only really know that the moment seizes us. And that’s true. It does. For good or bad, the moment seizes us.
We watch Mason grow up. A 6-year-old has almost no control over his life. As we get older, we have more and more control. An 18-year-old can make his own decisions. (Seriously. Mason. Kiss Nicole.) But even with that control, that ability to seize the moment, we also need to allow the moment to seize us.
We need to make it an embrace. We can’t completely chicken out (Harry, I’m talking to you here), and we can’t try to muscle our way through either (Harry, I’m talking to you here.)
A good embrace involves both asserting and yielding. Seriously. Think about it. Think about the best sex, or hug, or conversation you’ve ever had. It was both asserting and yielding. That’s what presence really means. Asserting and yielding.
People talk a lot about being in the moment. Well, that’s hard. Really hard. Almost too hard. Every choice we make leads us to the next movement and it’s really, really hard not to try to hold on to that previous choice. So we need to yield a little to make some room for the current moment. But we also have some choices to make to move us on to the next moment. We might regret our choice. Sometimes we need to regret that choice because the next moment down the line requires it. We don’t know.
Mason and Nicole and their roommates are hiking in the mountains where he’d hiked with his dad years before. In that earlier scene he’s talking to his dad about a girl he likes and how he can’t find anything to say to her. His dad explains that he should ask her questions and listen to her answers. That’s what’s happening with Nicole. They are speaking and listening to each other. Asserting and yielding.
Their friends are howling and shouting to the sunset, to the canyon, to whatever. They are asserting themselves completely. The scene they are taking in is just a tool for their own egos. And they are missing the point.
When we make room for the moment, when we allow our ego to withdraw so that we can actually be about the action we are doing in that moment, we are getting out of our own way.
We are opening up possibilities. Millions of possibilities, none of which brings any real resolution.
I find that reassuring.