I Consult a Fictional Character on Valentines Day

Another Valentines Day has come. I don’t really have much to add, since for me this year this date doesn’t mean too much.

There’s a dialogue that’s always meant a lot to me in one of my favorite films, Good Will Hunting. In this scene, Matt Damon is sitting on a park bench with Robin Williams, his shrink. Matt Damon, a kid from Southie marked with ingeniousness immeasurable, has his arrogance brought down to the ground by the wise words of Williams. One of my favorite parts of this dialogue is on the concept of love;

“I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms visiting hours don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you… I don’t see an intelligent, confident man… I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you’re a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my fucking life apart. You’re an orphan right?
[Will nods]
: You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally… I don’t give a shit about all that, because you know what, I can’t learn anything from you, I can’t read in some fuckin’ book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don’t want to do that do you sport? You’re terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.

Love is a beautiful thing, fickle yet necessary. When I hear the words of Robin above, playing themselves like a broken record in my mind from time to time, I reach the same conclusion; love is something you can only give once you love yourself. For Will, the scars of abuse and orphanage still stung, festering in daylight. He would never be able to love others until he looked at himself and recognized ‘It’s not your fault‘.

There’s a reason I believe that this movie is one of the greatest of all time; it strikes at a personal and worldwide chord on a concept of life and struggle that we all can relate to.

The unhindered vulnerability that love brings, though necessary for personal advancement in life, can’t be swallowed and digested by someone who can’t look at themselves in the mirror and smile. We all have our time-table for love, some bloom early while others arrive to the scene late. The time that is takes for us to look in love’s face and smile appreciatively isn’t identical when stretched across all of society. Some realize love at first sight, while the rest either fail to realize that ultimate aim of humanity or eventually hobble across the finish line.

I don’t know where I fit in this larger scheme of things, yet at the same time I do. I won’t share that publicly, some thoughts are so important and stunning that they deserve to survive only in the mind of its creator. Yet, I will share this part of me with you today.

Part of me is Robin Williams, looking at his life and able to dole out advice that is sound and proven. And part of me is Will Hunting (not the genius part), the scared-shitless kid who is way over his head, wrapped up in a dizzying whirlwind of emotions that conflate love with personal imperfections and shortcomings. I can sit in my room, at my desk, and feel like both of these men sitting on that park bench in the Boston Public Garden.

So for the lovers of the world who skip down city streets tonight and dine on the finest dishes, using the celebrations of the holiday to prove to others the strength of their relationships and the relative fragility of others’, I wish you the best of luck and send my heartfelt congratulations.

As for the others of you who are alone with yourself or with others and lonely, don’t fret. Whether or not it works out for you, you have yourself to fall back upon. You can give yourself love, and witness the beauty in yourself as it is. And if you can’t do any of this, then I urge you to retreat to that park bench, from time to time, and listen to the universally wise words of Good Will Hunting.

It’s not your fault.


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