Random Musings: Gary Oldman’s Ghosts, Recommendations

I’ve loved Gary Oldman’s work. The man has such a range. So when I find an article about two people I find interesting, of course I’ve got to read it. I give you Gary Oldman vs. the Ghost of Sir Alec Guiness.

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A friend of mine also did NaNoWriMo this year, and we ended up becoming “writing buddies”, with a determination to keep working together after November to encourage one another and help with the editing process. To help with that we set up our own private forum, so we could organize our thoughts and discussions better. One thread has been giving each other recommendations of works we feel they should check out as good examples of writing.

Today I found myself giving a recommendation and then wishing I hadn’t. There are some works of literature that are too important to me to recommend. Most works I enjoy I have no problem recommending to others because it doesn’t matter that much to me if they don’t like it. But there are some that are so close to my heart that I am very careful recommending. I would almost rather not let them know about it than run the risk of their not liking it.

I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps I’m afraid that my opinion of that person will be damaged if they don’t like it as I do. Perhaps such works are a litmus test for identifying people who I can let into that secret part of myself that is not open for public display. You don’t like this particular work that is core to my being? Well, then you’re not a safe person.  

In that regard I’m a very guarded person. I don’t like my kids (or even my wife sometimes) seeing me cry at movies or books, not because I’m ashamed to cry, but because they don’t understand why I cry.  I think I would almost rather cry in front of total strangers than cry in front of someone who is important to me, but who doesn’t understand. I think I feel most alone in life when the people closest to me still don’t completely understand me.

And so I am careful about what I recommend to whom. I don’t like being made to feel alone. I don’t like realizing that I can’t be completely open with someone because there are parts of me they don’t “get.” It’s disappointing having to close down access to certain parts of the Thom Stratton Theme Park. “Nothing to see here. Move along.”

Probably one of the most poignant and telling moments in my life was when I saw my father cry in a movie. Unlike me, my dad is not a crier. I don’t think I’ve seen much of an emotional response out of him from any movie. Except one. There is a scene in “Follow Me Boys” that would make him weep. I think I understand why, but in hindsight there was probably more to it than I can even imagine. I wish he were still alive to ask. I’ll have to add it to my ever-increasing stack of things to talk to him about someday.

My dad was what most people affectionately refer to as “a character.” Self-expression was not a problem for him. He would talk the ears off anyone that would listen. It’s only begun to occur to me in the past few years that there might have been vast tracts of himself he kept private. I wonder if he was like me, waiting for his kids to get old enough and show signs that they might be ready to understand those parts. What would his “acid tests” have been, I wonder. And would I even pass today?

Wow, this post took a deep turn. I should probably try to turn this into something positive and encourage everyone out there whose parents are still alive to not take them for granted, but I suspect that we take them for granted because we have yet to achieve the maturity or experience needed to even imagine there is something to take for granted. I think we spend most of our growing-up lives thinking we know everything there is to know about our parents, and then get to busy with our own lives that we forget to go back and question that assumption.

And that’s the sad irony of life. There are some questions you just don’t think to ask until the fact that you can no longer ask somehow triggers them. There is so much I wonder now about my dad, but I’m still foolishly incurious about my mother, who is still with us.

I guess I have some work to do.

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