I was 22 years old the year ‘Far and Away’ was released, a film by Ron Howard starring Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman with a score by John Williams. I watched it tonight, over 21 years after I first saw it. It’s the story of a poor young Irishman and a wealthy young Irishwoman in the 19th century, and their journey fleeing from Ireland to America in pursuit of land. For many of us, it’s the origin story of our families starting in our country, the story our families’ birth as Americans. It’s the story of our grandparents and of our great-grandparents (for me, of my parents). And that begs me to think of my legacy, and what will be remembered of me years from now. My brother and our closest friend was married in each of the last two weeks, in Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively; so these thoughts naturally and happily occupy my mind.
Out of all the films I could have written about first, ‘Far and Away’ is a surprising choice. Most people who’ve known me the past ten years most certainly would have thought I’d pick a super-hero movie. The Dark Knight movies most readily come to mind, though the Superman, Captain America, Spider-Man movies could also stand in mainly because the notion of the hero and the choice between right and wrong, and my belief in always trying to “do right” by others, is such a big part of me.
” I believe there´s a hero in all of us that keeps us honest, noble and finally allows us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the things we want the most. Even our dreams.”
That being said, most people who’ve known me twenty plus years would instead have bet that I would have discussed first ‘Field of Dreams’ (cos it always reminds me of my folks – especially my dad – and baseball), ‘The Natural’ (cos, again, it reminds me of my first love in sports – baseball), ‘A River Runs Through It’ (cos I always think of my brother), or the original Superman movie (see superhero note above), Indiana Jones (specifically ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’) or ‘Star Wars’ (finding out – spoiler alert!!! – Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father still is the number one shocker and most significant movie moment of my life of all time; I still have not gotten over it, the tragic story and redemption of Anakin Skywalker still moves me).
When ‘Far and Away’ was released, it would still be another year before I would find out my parents fell in love, as opposed to believing, as I had always believed till that point, that their marriage had been arranged. Their story is epic; and I’ve always promised myself that someday I would write the story of how they met; and how they fell in love, eventually moving from India to America via England. And someday a movie would be made about them. Whether I ever write a book, or a movie gets made, I will always look at them as the greatest love story I’ve ever known.
When ‘Far and Away’ was released, it would also be another year before my parents would sit me down in my first apartment in the Chicagoland area (technically outside Chicago in Norridge near O’Hare International, where I would live for a year before moving to Lakeview, a one-bedroom on Roscoe a block west of Ashland). They sat me down to tell me it was time to start thinking about settling down, to get married. And since I was the first born (and oldest among my side of my extended family), I should get married before my two brothers in college and my sister in high school. Marriage the furthest thing from my mind, I somehow convinced my folks that I didn’t think it appropriate to get married till the ripe old age of 31, so far in my future at that time, that I could not even fathom it.
Years have gone by; and in that time, my sister and both of my brothers have married. Almost all of my cousins are married as well. Most all my friends from high school are married. Many friends I have met since are married too. I’ve gone through rounds of marriages in my twenties, thirties and now early forties. Many now have families of their own. (I sometimes think of the Matthew McConaughey quote from ‘Dazed and Confused’ – “I get older. They stay the same age.” Tho the reference was for something completely crass and something completely different.) In that time I’ve gone thru several lives, having survived terrible car accidents when I was 25 and 27, pneumonia at 29 (knocking me out for three weeks, which is always scary for me cos I contracted it as an infant in a tiny village in India, at a time and place, if not for the courageousness of my grandfather and two uncles, when it was fatal), being run over by a car at 38, pneumonia again at 39, and almost being dumped in the river at 42 (ok that last one is a slight exaggeration but I did have the very real feeling that as I was getting mugged on the bridge, that was the next step to my eventual demise).
Despite all of that, or maybe because of it, each time something potentially tragic happened, I believed there was something greater in store for me, something left for me to do, that my work here was not done, that there was more time I needed to spend with my family and friends. Moreover, I also believe there is someone out there that I was meant to meet, the reason why I’ve survived some of the things I have, and she destined to meet me, to fulfill our destiny. And that story too will be epic, even if it’s just epic in its ordinariness. Much like the protagonists from ‘Far and Away’, knowing they had a destiny to fulfill, I too feel the same way. Standing up with my brother seeing him get married and then a week later officiating our dear friend’s wedding, I thought about ‘love’ and I thought back to the conversation now twenty years ago when my folks sat me down telling me it’s time to think about getting married. And though I didn’t say it then, I felt then as I feel now, that I am ready to settle down, just not ready to settle.
To keep the theme moving, before I goto bed, I have decided to watch the season premiere of ‘How I Met Your Mother’, cos even though Ted annoys me sometimes, his journey reminds me of mine. I’m sure it reminds many of theirs, as well.