Last week the movie Titanic was on one of my cable TV channels. I thought back to when I saw that movie in a theater, just after it was released. It was torture for me to sit through it. I thought the computer imagery looked fake and ridiculous, the love story was stupid and the theme song was like fingernails on a chalkboard. But I sat there through the end credits, realizing that the movie lasted longer than it did for the actual Titanic to sink.
There have been times when I have started reading a book, only to realize early into it that I don’t like it. It may be the style of writing or the story itself. There are several about which I have commented about having to slog through.
At what point in our lives can we give ourselves permission to walk out of a theater, hit the eject button on the DVD player, or close a book and not open it again? Unless it’s something we are later going to be tested on for a class, who cares if we finish it or not? If we are renting or going to a movie to be entertained then why sit through something that bores us? If we’re reading for pleasure, then why slog through something when there’s a whole world of books out there that we can enjoy?
I have also had the experience of thinking I was going to hate something, but agreed to sit through for someone else. My husband just had to see the movie Glory. I thought I would just use the cool, dark theater for a chance to take a two-hour nap. I left the theater sobbing, knowing I had just seen what would always be one of my all-time favorite movies. I had a similar experience with Apollo XIII. It was released during my son’s obsession with all things NASA. “Oh, this should be a real nail biter! Wonder if they’ll make it back to Earth alive?” was my sarcastic comment while waiting in line for tickets. Nobody was more stunned than me when I found myself perched on the edge of my seat, waiting for the crew to contact mission control upon re-entry. Again, I knew I was seeing what is still one of my favorite movies.
I suppose what I’ve learned is that while the payoff for trying something you think will not interest you can, in fact, turn out to be an unexpected wonderful surprise, it’s also OK to admit you just don’t like something. Even if a movie ends up winning more awards than any other movie in history, if you don’t enjoy it then why sit through it? Life is too short for sappy movies and boring books. Life is too short to be filled with meaningless junk in general. We can’t change things that have happened in our past. Time machines don’t exist and there are very few, if any, do-overs in life. All we can do is decide what we allow into our life from this second on. We can try new things, discover new things about ourselves, and sometimes even surprise ourselves by finding joy in unexpected places. We also have the power to let go of the worthless stuff that is weighing us down. We have the power to put it down and step away from it so that we can better fill that precious time with happiness and things that we find worthwhile.