When Frank Sinatra sings Paul Anka's stirring "My Way," he tells us
But, then again, too few to mention
And when Francis Albert Sinatra sings it, you can believe that he -- Sinatra -- doesn't have a lot of regrets.
Me, on the other hand, I'm a bundle of regrets. I'm probably made up of mostly regrets and peanut butter.
Defending Your Life? It's one of the few movies I've ever actually watched that features Meryl Streep.
I know, I know. She's got more Academy Awards than most people have IQ points -- what's her current Oscar total? 110? She'll probably get three or four next year, too. But nearly all of her movies are big, soggy, sorry downers. There's enough sadness in the world without paying $11 or whatever a first run movie costs these days to get sad on purpose. (For an eloquent elaboration on this point, may I direct you to Preston Sturges' 1941 classic, Sullivan's Travels?)
Anyway, in Defending Your Life, Brooks and Streep meet for the first time in the Afterlife, in a place called Judgment City. They learn that life on Earth has just been one big test. Can a person learn to master his or her fears? In the movie this is the only way a person realize his or her true potential, unlock more of his or her mental ability, and "move on." The title comes from the fact that new arrivals at Judgment City must undergo a trial during which a person's life is judged. Those found wanting are sent back to Earth -- reincarnated. A highlight of the movie comes when La Streep and Brooks visit the "Past Lives Pavilion" and see the people they have been. (There's a cameo appearance in this scene you have to watch for; trust me, it's perfect.)
When the past lives are reviewed, we see that Streep had been increasingly brave and noble in each successive incarnation -- which is why her 'trial' is more a party than anything -- while poor Mr. Brooks had mostly ended up screaming. Sometimes he was food, sometimes cannon fodder. Streep is a cinch to "move on" -- but Brooks?
Well, let's say I identify with Mr. Brooks' character.
On reflection, I suppose, I'm made up of regrets, peanut butter, and fear.
I'm braver now than ever. It's nearly a half dozen years now since I took sick and had to contemplate the Abyss. Ever since, I've been more willing to say things, and do things, from the courage of my convictions. I no longer always hold back because I'm afraid of how I will 'damage' my relationships, or my job, or my prospects....
I've probably worked my way up all the way to Sniveling Coward.
For me, this is progress. But I am all too painfully aware that it's not enough. I hope that I might have yet a while longer to work on this.
Maybe even have days when I'm not so tired.
Just between us, it's for these reasons I'm kind of hoping the Mayans were wrong. Or that they just ran out of rock....