By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the incredible feat of a movie in Boyhood, which was filmed with the same actors over a period of 12 years. Having simply seen the previews, and hear a review on the radio, I decided to take myself out to see this 2 hour and 45 minute film that is being touted as an award winning movie with very little action. It, by all accounts, has broken many cinematic rules. There’s no plot, besides simply watching a boy grow up, and the actors (Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke) committed over 12 years to make this film. The main character, Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, was only 6 when he started the project.
So there I was, sitting in a dark movie theater for a matinee showing with five other people. A young couple, who I judged to have no children yet, and older couple who seemed like grandparents, and a guy about my age. The five of were there to see the magic.
But it wasn’t magic. Not at first. It was cute seeing the six year old boy’s antics, and how he related to his older sister, and his mom, and the scenes from life that unfolded before my eyes. Halfway through I felt bored. There was no action. Tiny episodes of drama, but mostly interpersonal relating. Scenes from year to year were marked by Mason’s haircuts. I was sitting in this theater thinking “what? what? this is it? this is what I paid good money for? Really? This is all there is? The cinematography isn’t even that spectacular. And the soundtrack? Is there even a soundtrack?”
These thoughts were much like the thoughts I have when meditating, or halfway through yoga. Monkey mind. I sat back for the rest of the film, followed the loose plot, and then BAM. (uh, spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the film…do not read on…)
Mason graduates from high school. His mom, played by Patricia Arquette, is sitting in her new apartment with her now-grown son, in that awkward teenage-almost-college-student-scruffy way is packing up his belongings. And she starts to cry. She says, “I just thought there’d be more.” At least that’s how I remembered it. She might have said “I just thought there’d be more time,” but nonetheless, I started to cry. Little tears rolled down my cheeks, not a full on sobbing mess, I can keep it together of course.
The final scene is Mason hanging out with some of his new college buddies, and he has this conversation about the idea of ‘seizing the moment,’ rephrasing it by saying, “I think the moments seize you,” and suddenly the movie was spectacular. I think that was the magic in it. That I couldn’t tell how beautiful it was until it was over and I looked back, remembered earlier scenes and saw how the tied in to the ending. That life was unfolding and no matter how mindful in the here and now, there is something powerful in that moment of reflection, introspection, nostalgia. It was pure magic.
And would it be crazy to say that a movie could influence me to want another child? No, that’d be totally daft, right? But I found myself, as I was watching the scenes unfolding, and the nostalgia I felt at the end when she said ‘I thought there’d be more time,’ that the reason I have only wanted 1 kid is not because I am afraid another will distract me from BIG life goals like curing cancer (or travelling to India) or doing a career I love…but that it will distract me from doing things like Buzzfeed quizzes. Now that might sound silly, but it’s true. When I get angry with Potamus for ‘interfering’ with my time, or not going to bed because I ‘just want a fucking minute to myself,’ It’s not because I want a minute to myself to do art or yoga or spend time with friends. Because I manage to find time to structure into my life to do those things. It’s that I want him to ‘go the fuck to sleep’ so I can scroll, scroll, scroll through Pinterest on my phone.
I was asked once if I would get to be that 80 year old woman if I would regret not trying to have another kid. And I know the answer would be ‘no,’ if it meant I could be the best parent to 1 kid while pursuing my amazing life goals. I will regret not trying for another kid if it’s because I wanted to pin recipes to pinterest that I know I’ll never use. You know?
Parenting is my mindful meditation. I get to drop into something deeper beyond buzzfeed quizzes and the monkey chatter of my thoughts. This isn’t a pregnancy announcement, or even an announcement that we will be trying any time in the near future (soonest will be next summer), but something settled in my body and heart when I watched this film. I realized that it is hard, and amnesia sets in at some point and I will say to myself, “I just thought there’d be more time.”