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Saturday, June 29, 2002

Of all the things I don't believe in, most of the time I'm willing to buy into someone else's belief in them, for the sake of peace and understanding. Even if I'm sure I'm right, I can almost always see the other person's point of view. And I'm almost never so sure I'm right that I discount what someone else holds as a core belief.

I believe more in random chance than in an elaborate design (or a divinity) that shapes our ends, but I love the idea that fate can take a hand. The notion that some things are meant to be is an attractive one, whether it's a rational one or not.

Netflix brought me the most charming romantic comedy yesterday, a trifle called Serendipity, with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. To enjoy it, you have to think about the relationship between coincidence and fate. Even if in real life you can't embrace the result of a series of coincidences as something predestined, in a movie you can. You can accept it because there is, after all, a guiding hand that's leading you along. You accept it because it's a movie, and you go to the movies to suspend belief as much as to suspend disbelief.

Is there a difference? In my mind, it's this: When you relax and let yourself live in a world where things you know are impossible are commonplace, that's the suspension of disbelief. When you watch a movie that portrays a world where the basis for how the story moves forward is different from how you believe the real world works, that's the suspension of belief. And now that I've explained it, I'm not sure I understand it any more.

I used to think that the only pictures that must be seen in theaters are the big-screen epics, with your sweeping vistas and your spectacular explosions, but there's something about a little movie like Serendipity that begs for a shared experience.

In a romantic comedy, you laugh and cry with the characters as they circle around each other for an hour and a half. That part can be done at home in private. When the payoff comes, the big moment when all the internal lights go on and they realize they're destined to be together, you want to be in the company of people who have shared the longings and the foibles and the near-misses.

There's a moment at the end of a romantic comedy, if it's well-made and features actors who make you care enough, that demands applause. You've been pulling for these people, and when they fly into each other's arms (or whatever), you need someone to exchange high-fives with. That's how I feel about it, anyway.

That doesn't mean I won't keep renting movies like this and watching them all by myself, though. I even watched Serendipity the second time through, with the director's commentary. In this case it didn't really add much depth to the story itself, which is good because this kind of film doesn't demand overanalysis.

But it was fun hearing how the movie was put together, and why certain decisions were made, and what the director thought were the best moments. It's a whole different experience, seeing a picture through the eyes of the director. I enjoyed it every bit as much as I did watching the movie itself.

Llano Road

Some of the oaks down the road, as seen from my driveway.

As I prepare to slip off the edge of the world for ten days, I'm finding one advantage in the massive amount of work that absolutely has to be done before I can leave. It means I can ignore the stuff I don't want to deal with.

There's a difference between the things I "should" do and the things I "haveta" do. I should get caught up on my filing, but I haveta get the company bills paid. I should dust and vacuum, but I haveta figure out what I'm going to take with me and if there's anything else I need.

I waste a lot of my own time, and sometimes I waste company time, so I can't complain about the extra work I'm putting in over the weekend, just to be sure I'm ready to leave. I'm doing what I haveta do so I'll get a chance to drop out of this life of "should" and "haveta," if only for a few stolen days.

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Moving on. . .

Jill, Mighty Like a Rose, June 24, Things Change

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Summer Redux
"After a brief, murky interlude that had the summer-haters jumping for joy (in that low-key, don't-get-all-het-up way they have), we have resumed our regularly scheduled programming, only slightly the worse for having endured the interruption."

Two years ago: Brand New Day
"So sleeping through the alarm was just gravy, or icing on the cake, but please, don't mix the two."

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