Lisa & I shared a somewhat uncomfortable yet ultimately inspiring Saturday evening watching Lars and the Real Girl. It was far deeper than I expected, considering the premise is a guy who pretends a big plastic doll is his girlfriend.
As the story unfolded, I couldn't help but think about the extent of sadness and heartache and despair coursing through any given person I pass on the street - or have in my classroom - everyday. It was a touching movie because Lars' family and community are good people with caring hearts; it was entertaining because who couldn't help but laugh at grown-ups carrying a mannequin around, dancing with her and discussing her haircut. But it was also moving, in a tight-throat-stomach-hurting-eyes-stinging way, because the reality is there are so many people who skate along the surface of life like Lars and his brother, lost & lonely, not letting themselves think about and feel any grief or pain.
I keep thinking about my students in particular - no one has brought a doll to school (yet), but plenty relay unlikely stories of work they've done, gifts they've received, jobs they're offered, places they've been or are going to visit, feats they've committed. I know plenty who act too cool for schoolwork, who make inappropriate comments about my appearance, who write violent lyrics on page after page of their notebooks, who never look me in the eye. There is an obvious, heartbreaking lack of talk about loving relationships or happy memories or feelings of being smart and safe and okay.
I hope I will always be willing to accept the Real Girl and be the compassionate, caring listener to any Lars that ends up in my world. Hope hope hope.