“Ok, Let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love!” – Sam, Love Actually
Some movies are brilliant because they are pure fantasy, like Star Wars or Harry Potter. Others are brilliant because they resonate with us very deeply. In those films, the characters perfectly portray something so real for us, that it stirs the emotion in us, that we know so well.
Love Actually is one of those films. (If you haven’t seen the film, don’t read this until you do!)
There are so many moments in Love Actually that we could dive into, explore and learn from. It’s one of my favorite films and each time I watch it, I seem to notice a new moment or demonstration of a great lesson in love. I could write a book just from the lessons that can be extrapolated from the scenes in this movie, and maybe I will! But for now, I’d like to share just one perspective with you, something you may not have ever noticed before.
OPEN or CLOSED
That is the theme for today’s article. And it is a brilliant lesson portrayed in the film Love Actually. What is Open or Closed you ask?
- When we are afraid of being hurt, when we are protecting, we CLOSE.
- When we are inspired, bold, hopeful, and willing to take the risk required in the moment, we OPEN.
Examples, you ask?
Sam, 11 years old, tells his step-dad Daniel that he is in love. “Ask her out” Daniel offers. “Impossible” Sam responds. CLOSED
Sarah, hopelessly in love with Carl for years, put on her makeup at her desk, planning to ask Carl out for a drink after work. Carl, putting on his coat and leaving the office, stops at her desk and says “Good night Sarah.” Sarah responds “Good Night Carl.” and puts her makeup away. CLOSED
Collin, adventurous and sex-crazed 20 year old leaves his best friend Tony at the air port to head off on his master plan of going to the States so he can leverage his unique British accent with warm and friendly American girls who will think of him like James Bond.
Tony yells out: “You’ll come back a broken man!” (CLOSED)
Collin replies “Yeah, back broken from too much sex!” And then adds a classic Collin line – “I’m on SHAG highway, heading west!” (Collin is a nice segue into the OPEN examples)
Sam, 11, tells Daniel “Ok Dad, Let’s go get the shit kicked out of us by love!” Daniel responds “Ata boy!” OPEN
Mark shows up at Juliet’s door on Christmas with a cute and charming way to finally pour his heart out to her. OPEN
Natalie sends David a card for Christmas apologizing for the misunderstanding and letting him know that she is ACTUALLY his. OPEN
So, you are familiar with all these moments, I’m sure. As you read the OPEN moments, could you feel your energy start to rise? Even just reading it, let alone watching it, your energy can rise and expand (or fall and shut down) depending on the characters actions of opening or closing…the same is true in your life.
Here’s what’s really interesting…watch the patterns of what follows CLOSED or OPEN.
We “think” that we will protect by closing and it will be better afterwards. We also “think” that we will be at risk for opening and it will hurt like hell afterwards. But what is the real truth, in the film, and in life?
What follows CLOSED is usually pain and suffering. What follows OPEN is relief, sometimes with extreme pleasure, sometimes not, but ALWAYS with satisfaction….and the suffering is lifted.
Two perfect examples:
Sam and Joanna:
Sam was suffering for quite sometime because he fell in love with Joanna and did nothing about it. He suffered so much, his dad worried about him, thinking it was something much more serious. When he opened, and took the risk, he felt invincible, alive and “king of the world”…even before Joanna came back to kiss him on the cheek!
Mark and Juliet:
Mark suffered tremendously because he was in love with Juliet and she was married to his best friend. In fact, the scene when Juliet figures this out, and then Mark leaves his apartment might be the BEST depiction of raw, brutal, heart-wrenching pain ever done on film.
Then later in the film, he pours his heart out to her in one moment, with a smile. When he turns to leave, you can visibly see the pain leave his face and the relief set in, even before Juliet comes after him. Once she kisses him, one time, knowing that is all there will ever be, he utters one word. ENOUGH. He is free, relief, the suffering is lifted.
One more example:
A MUCH more common human experience, with a very different outcome.
Karen and Harry:
Emma Thompson’s character, Karen, learns that her husband, Harry, has purchased an expensive heart necklace and given it to another woman. She has a private, heart wrenching brake down that we feel deeply; but then she quickly pulls it together for the kids. She confronts Harry once, but they don’t show anything more.
Their last scene in the film speaks volumes. Harry is flying home from a trip. Karen and the kids greet him at the airport to welcome him home.
Harry turns to Karen and asks “And how are you?”
“Fine. I’m fine.” Karen responds. And then she says “Let’s go home.”
In the next moment, the look on Emma Thompson’s face is monumental….it is the look of “Quiet Desperation”. Watch the film again, and you will see what Quiet Desperation looks like.
Quiet desperation is what happens when we remain closed…the passion and energy continues to leave us, til we are walking through life in quiet desperation.
In the film, Karen and Harry clearly never resolve their pain. They stay together (in proximity and as parents) but they are living parallel lives of quiet desperation…this is an epidemic in our society today.
The Lesson of Love Actually
It’s possible that we think we are protecting ourselves, but we are really prolonging suffering. It’s possible that we think we are being bold and preparing to be crushed (or get the shit kicked out of us), but we are really opening to our authentic and passionate experience of life, which feels amazing, regardless of the outcome. And it’s possible, that staying closed and protecting, long term eventually turns into withholding, then resentment, and then ultimately into a life of quiet desperation.
What do you think? What has your story been up until this moment – an example (like Sam) or a warning (like Karen)?
Someday, I will do an article on my absolute favorite love story in Love Actually…Jamie and Aurelia!
Sending love to you,