So I like films. Like a lot. And sure, I can wax lyrical with Tarantino fans. And sure, I can sip away on bubbles with a bowl of cherries and spend lazy Sunday afternoons with a little foreign film, so don’t even get me started on Volver. But I just don’t have it in me to be a film snob. I either dig it or I don’t. And there are some films, you can call ’em cheesy, you can call ’em what you like, really, but I love ’em. There are some films that just feel like home to me.
Top of this list are The Secrete Life of Walter Mitty and Stranger than Fiction. They are both something of a soothing balm to my soul. And not because they are the greatest movies ever made. They’re not and they weren’t written to win any Oscars either. But to me, they’re great enough because they’re about the little guy, the little worker bee, coming out swinging in the end. They’re about not taking that unassuming guy in the corner cubicle at face value because he may just surprise you. And the greater message, if I may surmise, is this: Good things can happen to good people. I like that message. I want to believe in that message. So if that’s a message you’re feeling a little short on in life right now, maybe give ’em a chance.
But before I digress too far, it is a character that has inspired this small offering, a character from Stranger than Fiction, the character of an anarchist baker played by the naturally bewitching Maggie Gyllenhaal. I was once told by a friend that she reminded him of me. I couldn’t see it. Her character is fierce and far sassier than I can be even at the best of times. But I watched it again a little while ago and I kinda got it. Maggie Gyllenhaal is Maggie Gyllenhaal. She is beyond crush-worthy. But it wasn’t about Maggie Gyllenhaal. It wasn’t even entirely about her character. If anything, it was about her bakery. Fed up with the powers that be, this particular anarchist opens a bakery. A bakery open to one and all. The homeless, the downtrodden, the down-on-their-luck, the lonely. Come inside, the bakery beckons, and sip on a glass of milk and eat cookies in the warmth of my fire. It seems simple right? Perhaps even a little too simple…
But those of us who have felt ourselves a little ‘soul tired’ as a friend of mine likes to call it, will know better. At a time when I was feeling a little soul tired myself, I visited a good friend. He made me the most delicious coffee I have ever had in my life, with salted caramel. If you don’t know any better, you will say, “But it’s just coffee.” If you know what I know, you’ll know it was so much more than ‘just coffee’. It was the elixir I needed to live and fight another day. It reminded me that in spite of it, life is so very worth it… That we have this thing, this glorious thing, called the gift of taste…. But most importantly, it reminded me that I was loved…. That someone cared enough to nourish me with a token of their love… Very few things, if anything, can compare to this in life.
I struggle at times, when I look at the world around me… That my efforts are all in vain… That they will never be enough…That I am incapable of enough. But maybe, just maybe, each and every one of us, is capable of that exact thing: enough. Enough to do our little part. Some parts may seem to make more sense in the grand scheme of things. A doctor working tirelessly in impoverished areas has an obvious part to play… As does a social worker saving children from an abusive home… Or a president inspiring changes in policies that may transform people’s lives as they know it… But mine is something else.
Mine is an open door policy when it comes to my home. Mine is a breakfast fry-up or a bowl of oats and fruit when someone comes a’knocking. Mine is to write always and wherever possible from the heart.
And you have yours.
Embrace it. Play to your strengths. Life is too short for should’ve, could’ve, would’ve. Every little part, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, counts for so much more than we know. Today, it may just be a cup of coffee for a friend who is weary and world-beaten. Who knows, today, you may just make someone feel loved.
Featured Image: Jewish Baker by Yehuda Pen