Moments to Treasure
I’m half-way through The Power of Myth, a fascinating transcription of Bill Moyers interview with Joseph Campbell in 1985-6. Their discussion often returns to the lack of important, shared myth, of ritual, in today’s society, outside of the churches, many of which are losing members at a speedy clip. Even in religious practice, Campbell believes the sacredness of ritual has largely been lost, replaced with “homey and cozy” ceremonies that no longer take its participants outside themselves to the transcendent experience. Familiarity and comfort take precedent over mystery and ecstasy.
“One important part of ancient ritual was that it made you a member of the tribe, a member of the community, a member of society,” Campbell says. And while he notes Western culture is more concerned with the individual than community, we still value shared experiences, when we can find them. “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” Or for the younger generations, on 9/11. National sporting events like March Madness and blockbuster movies give us something to reference in daily interactions, to communicate with and through.
All this has been swirling through my brain, wondering at my own lack of ritual and tradition as I separate from the religion of my youth. How do we celebrate important events and mark the passing of time? A silly Facebook posting reminded me: we use movies.
At the opening of spring training, in celebration of the end of winter, hubby and I curl up for our annual viewing of Field of Dreams and Bull Durham. Major League is usually on the list, but I couldn’t face another Charlie Sheen marathon this year. The winter holiday season is marked by White Christmas on December 15th, never earlier. On Christmas Eve, we watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas in the original Dr. Seuss cartoon version, not the awful Jim Carey remake. And for twenty-plus years, we’ve shared New Year’s Eve with dear friends, grilling steaks and watching noteworthy movies we missed earlier in the year before switching to the ball drop in Times Square – another national shared experience.
The Facebook post referenced another treasured movie we haven’t seen in far too long, The Princess Bride, and there are others in our selected DVD collection that we rarely view. So I’ve decided we need to add more movies to mark annual events. The Princess Bride is good for Valentine’s Day (an annoying Hallmark holiday, but there it is). I have some issues with the latent misogyny in The Quiet Man, but it’s one of hubby’s favorite because of the setting, so it can mark St. Patrick’s Day. Independence Day goes without saying. For our wedding anniversary, The Way We Were, the first romantic movie we saw when we were dating (yes, we’ve been together that long). The soundtrack of Memories by Barbara Streisand became ‘our song,’ with teenage naiveté overlooking the fact it was about a relationship that failed. Since we don’t like horror movies, Young Frankenstein will do for Halloween and the end of autumn.
I’m sure I’m missing a few other good opportunities to establish new ritual in our life. What movies mark your special events?