Saturday, July 10, 2004


Jason and I rented the movie, The Cider House Rules, last night.

[Aside: We are on a Tobey Maguire "kick" right now. This week we also watched Seabiscuit, Spiderman, and Ride with the Devil.I tend to do this from time to time. I've been through many "kicks": Nicholas Cage, John Cusack, Merchant Ivory, Bill Murray, Reese Witherspoon, Adam Sandler, Colin Firth (that one accompanied a Jane Austen kick, I believe.) I look forward to going through these every once in awhile. Although you do see lots of crappy or mediocre movies, you also uncover some real gems. For example: Nic Cage crap movies: Valley Girl, Honeymoon in Vegas. Nic Cage gems: Peggy Sun Got Married, Red Rock West. John Cusack crap movie: The Grifters. John Cusack gems: Better Off Dead, Being John Malkovich. We actually haven't found a Tobey Maguire crap movie yet. Ride With The Devil was...fair, but Tobey managed to elevate it to an acceptable level. And Jewel didn't suck too bad in it, either. Some people might say a Tobey crap movie could be The Ice Storm, but I really loved that movie, just as I am sure I am going to hear back how great The Grifters was.]

Anyway, The Cider House Rules got me laying in bed last night, thinking about strength of character and the will to do what's right. Some people seem to have their strength tested quite a bit in life, but others of us, much fewer.

I was in a relationship once which I knew, in my heart, was not meant to be. I knew it, he knew it. We tried to disentangle each other for years but nothing seemed to work. I knew the only way that it could end, so with all of my will, I pushed him away. If all of the previous removal attempts had been attempted with tweezers, this one was done with a sledgehammer. Within a couple of months, I heard that he was engaged to someone else. Here was where my previously-unknown-to-me willpower took over. I knew that I was not supposed to be his wife, and I knew that this woman was. But I also knew that I had the ability to mess with his mind, and doing so could cause some serious damage. So, for many months, I did absolutely nothing. No contact whatsoever. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done, but the best thing I've ever done. He is living the life that he is supposed to be living, with the loved one that he is supposed to be living it with. After meeting her, years later, I was happy to discover that she is the yin to his yang (which I never was. We were both sorta yangs). And the ironic thing is that the week that they got married is the week that I began dating my husband.

My friend, Mindy, had a false accusation brought against her by an asshole principal. She was told that, if she would just sign this little form admitting guilt, she could have her hand slapped and keep her job. She refused and the shit came raining down. I remember talking with her while the whole thing was going down, and seeing the weariness in her eyes. She held her ground though, and was relocated to a different school. In the end, she was much happier in the new school, and it was later revealed that the principal had lied about the incident, as well as many others. He was fired.

I remember my father going through a very difficult time many years back. Through dealings with an unethical partner, difficulties and hardships arose surrounding his medical practice. He had the grounds to get even and sue, but he did not. Instead, he picked up, moved on and forgave. I, as a teenager, of course, was indignant with his decision to allow the injustice. I felt a bit like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, frustrated at her father's infuriating mercifulness. Looking back, he couldn't have taught me a better lesson. I don't know what happened to the other person involved, but my dad turned out fine. And he can sleep soundly at night, without anger in his heart.

Much can be said for the shapings by our feeling and emotions...hell, sometimes my emotions have me wrapped around their middle finger. But I think that most of our character-shaping comes from exercising our will to do the right thing, especially when you seem to be the only one that knows it's the right thing.


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