Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Gift of a Fresh Approach

I watch a lot of movies. If you've read my blog for any length of time you know that is true! Over this past weekend, I watched "50 First Dates." While some of the elements of this movie are particularly tacky, the overall story and message is entertaining and positive.

In the story one of the main characters, Lucy, has a memory loss issue. Each night when she goes to sleep, her memory takes her back to a day in her past. On that particular day, Lucy was in a severe car accident and sustained a head injury. As a result of this injury, she wakes up every morning, believing it to be the start of that specific day. She is unaware that she is living the same day over and over again.

Her father and brother, and all her local community, conspire to keep Lucy from finding out about her memory limitation. Her father had hundreds of newspapers printed up from the day of Lucy's accident, so that each morning she reads the paper and it is just as Lucy expects it to be. Lucy continues living her life/day blissfully unaware that she is aging and time is marching on.

Her family and friends are well intentioned. On the 'bad' days when Lucy's carefully crafted universe gets disturbed and she discovers the truth about her accident and memory loss it is very upsetting to her. It's as though she's hearing the news for the first time. Her community has bonded together to try to spare her the pain of 're-hearing' about her trauma every day. Their intentions are good.

Then, Lucy meets a guy named Henry. They hit it off very well, and Henry goes through the process of learning about Lucy's problem. He is in love with Lucy and wants to find a way to be in a relationship with her, despite her problem.

Henry tries some creative approaches to helping Lucy cope with reality. At first Lucy's father and brother are extremely resistant to changing anything about Lucy's universe. As Henry persists with helping Lucy live a more authentic, reality based life her world blossoms and opens up. Her father and brother also find new freedom, as they are released from the time consuming task of trying to 'keep Lucy safe' from the truth.

As I watched the unfolding of this story I was reminded of how common it is for people to try to 'protect' others from the truth. Usually it is done with the best of intentions. A person believes another person can't handle knowing about something and conceals it 'for their own good.' I marvel at how much 'energy' is expended to protect people from reality, truth and sometimes even their own feelings about life.

I have an elderly friend who's son needed to have a minor surgery. He didn't tell his mom about it because he 'didn't want to worry her.' When she found out, not only was she worried, but she was 'furious' that her son didn't think she could handle knowing about it. She recounted to me all of the hardships she has endured and pressed through in her life and said, 'And he doesn't think I can handle his little surgery?'

So often we use our energy to spin webs of protection around people when, not only do they not need them, they don't want them! My elderly friend was insulted by her son's actions.

When we conceal truth and reality from people, not only do we waste our precious energy, but we don't do the 'object' of our actions any favors either.

Just like in the movie I was watching, when we find ways to help people deal with reality (rather than conceal it from them) everyone's life enlarges and enriches. It's the way our universe is designed!

Next time you're tempted to 'protect' someone from some truth... I ask you to reconsider and carefully think through ways that you might encourage them to stretch to face the truth. You might be surprised at the results!

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