This film is a challenge to us all. A challenge to ordinary people. The challenge is to become more open to our feelings. More whole. Stronger through awareness. This is the challenge that poets and artists have given us for a thousand years and more. It is the same challenge that God also gives to us.
It can be a hard journey to accept the challenge. It can seem easier to stay in control; to keep the feelings pushed down. The immediate results of starting on the journey are not always pleasant. But, the alternative is to fail the test of your heart; to not open your soul to the great depths of a life lived with the richness and fullness of feelings.
Ordinary People interpretation
I think American society discourages being open to feelings. Sure there are talk shows where people bare everything, but there is no effort to encourage guests to access real feelings, only to make people crazy for having them. Talk shows are really shit shows, but they are a perfect example of how America as a society and culture just parasitically feeds on people’s messy lives from a comfortable distance–not just celebrities but friends and other people. I’m guilty of this as much as the next guy.
But I think this in part stems from that people in this country–because we are supposed to appear happy–are incredibly scared of our own feelings. So we block them out and look for evidence that people who seem to have every reason to feel good about themselves and their lives–the rich and famous–do not at all. Rather than deal with our own feelings, we just feed off of seeing them when they’re making a mess of their lives. I realize I’ve digressed a bit, but these two ideas –schadenfreude and repressing feelings–seem related to me in a way I can’t presently articulate.
The culture we live in wants us to be happy all the time, and when we aren’t happy, we are made to feel like it is because we don’t have the right job or a great car or the right friends. We aren’t told that maybe there’s an internal problem. For those of us who try to deal with the internal problems through therapy or just introspection, we can’t help but feel kind of like sad sacks who wallow in being sad. But Ordinary People is right: the people who want to live as if the difficult feelings are a problem that must be fixed are exercising a kind of maniacal control that will either backfire or prevent them from living rich lives.
I have been scared of my feelings for a long time, but I’m less scared now. I feel like kind of a dope for writing this down and sharing it publicly, but whatever. It is representative of exactly what I feel presently. Everyone wants to be in control of themselves, and I believe we can be, but not in the way we think we should be. “Everybody wants to rule the world,” as Tears for Fears so astutely sang.