Boyhood, Peggy Lee and life without God.

 

I was stopped at a red light yesterday morning listening to the Frank Sinatra station on Satellite Radio. Peggy Lee was  singing an old song (#11 on the charts in 1966) which I later discovered was titled “Is that all there is?” The words are haunting and reminded me of a movie I had just watched last week-end and was going to tell you about.  Before I get to the film though, I need to share these lyrics:

 

“Is That All There Is?”

I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire.sheet-is-that-all-there-is
I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face as he gathered me up
In his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement.
I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames.
And when it was all over I said to myself,
“Is that all there is to a fire?
Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends
Then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is
And when I was 12 years old, my daddy took me to a circus.
“The Greatest Show On Earth.”
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears.
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads.
And as I sat there watching, I had the feeling that something was missing.
I don’t know what, but when it was over,
I said to myself,
“Is that all there is to a circus?”
Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends
Then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is
And then I fell in love, with the most wonderful boy in the world.
We would take long walks by the river
Or just sit for hours gazing into each other’s eyes.
We were so very much in love.
Then one day, he went away and I thought I’d die.
But I didn’t.
And when I didn’t I said to myself,
“Is that all there is to love?”
Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing-
I know what you must be saying to yourselves.
“If that’s the way she feels about it why doesn’t she just end it all?”
Oh, no, not me.
I’m in no hurry for that final disappointment.
‘Cause I know just as well as I’m standing here talking to you,
That when that final moment comes and I’m breathing my last breath
I’ll be saying to myself-
Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends
Then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is..
 .
The movie I watched on Comcast, Boyhood, is an almost three hour long drama that follows the basic contours of this sad song. A boy, his sister and divorced mother navigate through 12 years of their mostly difficult, ever changing lives. What makes this movie unique is that it was literally filmed over twelve years, and we actually watch the actors age over this span of time.  Near the end, with her son preparing to leave for college, the mother is in tears verbalizing what her youngest child has been asking for some time… “Is this all there is to life?”22boyhood_ss-slide-7UMX-jumbo
No, it’s definitely not a ‘pick-me up’ kinda film, but it does make you realize how difficult divorce can be on each member of a splintered family. The movie, like the song, also makes you grieve for those who have no faith.
My heart broke for the mother who struggled so hard to provide for her kids. She did the best she could, but at the end of the day she wasn’t able to provide them with any reassurance that life was more than just a collection of good and bad chapters in an unbound book with no central theme and no one to whom it was dedicated.
bibleMy faith is like a bowl containing the stew that is my existence.  Without this encapsulating, supporting structure, my life would ooze all over the place without rhyme, reason or ultimate purpose. I would be one big, shapeless, possibly still delicious (haha),  randomly migrating puddle…kind of like the characters in this film.
Boyhood is a pretty depressing movie, but it is nominated for six academy awards, so the critics must have liked it. My take-away from both the movie and the Peggy Lee song is this: There are so many people who are urgently seeking a greater meaning and purpose for their lives. We have seen, especially recently, how even overtly horrible groups like ISIS are able to lure those with no sense of direction into joining their murderous ranks, simply by offering the “lost” an ideology that they can build their lives around.  Empty, roaming hearts will eventually be filled…
I don’t believe it has ever  been more important to share God’s love and boldly communicate our faith.

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