So, while taking a break from my Unschooled Master of Theology Program and now my Master of Theology at NationsU, I caught one of my favorite movies, Up in the Air.
You know, the movie with George Clooney and Anna Kendrick, directed by Jason Reitman – you know, right?
Well, if you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s a really great movie with a great cast and touches on the fundamental nature of humans and how we treat each other (and ourselves).
So, lets tackle this fascinating movie and see where we end up.
Here we go…
What’s So Great About this Movie?
It’s a bait and switch, like all relationships I’ve ever had. Like most I think that actually exist outside of fictional situations. Typically a movie will paint relationships with broad strokes, tugging on the heart strings, but is usually unrealistic and rarely if ever reflects reality.
Not this movie, though.
Right out of the gate, you know this is not going to be your typical movie. After all, the guy fires people for a living. When I first watched this movie, I immediately went to Google to see what qualified a person to fire people as a career. I found out there actually is no dedicated job for this. The whole premise of this movie is based on a book written by Walter Kirn that, I found out later, is pretty much unreadable (I think I made it a whole ten pages).
Of course, the movie is much different than the book. This story is set in the age of massive downsizing across the country. This guy, flaunting a rootless existence, is isolated in his near constant travel. During the process, he makes an acquaintance, and in Hollywood fashion, they immediately hook up.
At the same time, the guy – who is perfectly happy in his “cocoon of self banishment” is saddled with a new hire who wants to turn his world upsidedown, bring all the travelers home and make them work from a computer screen remotely firing people.
Of course, the end result or net benefit of going on the road with this young woman is really not discussed. But, I guess they have to do it somehow.
Then the Real Story
So, there are several sub-plots to the story, Ryan with is new employee, Ryan with his new girlfriend, Ryan with his family. The main thread throughout the movie is the premise that people are a problem. Social norm is an arbitrary construct. People are weight you have to carry with you, relationships hold you down. As he states in his speech, “take your backpack, put everything in it, everything you care about, then light it on fire and watch it burn. Don’t you feel better?”
Of course, Ryan can say all this and believe it, while at the same time he is quickly forming an attachment to his new plaything. And, as the end comes to a close of his traveling job, while heading back to the office, he makes a discovery. He wants to be with his girlfriend. He wants to make a life with her. He wants to be her companion. He loves her.
So he jumps ship and heads to Chicago where she lives.
Meeting the Family
How he found where she lived is beyond me. If this was the digital age, she would have given him a cell number and it would have been untraceable. If it was the pre-internet era, he would have looked her name up in the phone book and saw it next to her husband’s name. That would have been a hint.
So I’m not sure how he just showed up at her doorstep, where she and her family live together. The conversation afterward is eye opening. She claims they signed up for the same thing from the beginning, that they were both adults, that he was for her an escape from real life. If he wanted to keep seeing her that was fine, but if he wanted anything more, that was the end of it.
The reality is, there are secrets everywhere. People may or may not be fundamentally honest. They might be genuine. They could be sincere. But, there is, in the end, no way to tell. You don’t know what your spouse is really thinking. You don’t know what your husband or your wife really believes.
I thought for the entire five years of my marriage, divorce was simply off the table. It had been a discussion before we ever got married. It was an agreement struck between us. After all, I had abandonment issues and she was the product of divorce as well. Neither one of us wanted that for each other or for the kids. But, come to find out, after investing all that time, effort, money, trust – she lied. She finally admitted it. Divorce had always been on the table for her. If things got bad, just bail. Of course she lied, otherwise I wouldn’t have married her. But there was no way to know. There was no litmus test on honesty for relationships. Take all the time you want. Date for years before you get married. Talk to family and friends and old lovers. It doesn’t matter. What is in the heart of a person is a mystery.
Needless to say, Ryan ended up back in the air, back doing what he was good at. Firing people and being alone. He solved the issues he had with his family, or, at least, tried to make up for it with a couple round the world tickets. He wrote the new girl a glowing recommendation for a new job. All was right in the world, and do you want to know why?
Because Ryan was once again alone….
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Excerpt from Our Daughter:
“Okay, mom,” Randy said.
“You behave yourself and be nice. You’re lucky to have company while you wait for the doctors.”
The woman turned and started back the way she came.
“The nurse said it would be twenty or thirty more minutes, so we’ll eat quick and be back up here before they take you in, okay?”
“Sorry for him,” the woman said to Katie as she walked by.
As the woman left, Katie noticed the boy moving around again on the bed. Before she realized what was happening, the tiny lump disappeared and she could hear the faint sound of bare hands and feet on the tile floor.
He was low crawling under the beds toward her.
A moment later, Randy popped his head out from under the nearest hospital bed, craning his neck around to look up at her.
“Hello, there,” Katie said.
Randy disappeared back under the bed, the bed sheet draping down almost to the floor. Katie could still see three little fingers pressed to the tile.
“What are you here for?” Katie asked, readjusting her seat in the chair, trying to get the ache in her chest to lessen.
For whatever reason, the wheelchair was really uncomfortable.
“Why are – ”
Randy’s voice trailed off for a moment as he looked around.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m getting my leg fixed,” Katie said. “See?”
Randy poked his head back out from under the bed and looked at the leg she was pointing to.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“The doctor said it’s broken,” Katie said. “Shattered.”
“Can you feel it?” Randy asked, able to stay out from his hiding place.
“I can feel it, but it’s not too bad,” Katie said, then tapped the IV in her arm. “This thing is giving me medicine of some kind for the pain. At least that’s what the nurses said.”
“Why are you – ”
Randy stopped mid-sentence.
He scooted out from under the bed entirely and slowly crept over to her on all fours.
“What are you, some kind of spider?” Katie asked, giggling a little.
“What are you?” Randy echoed.
He was now only about a foot away from her chair and sat there, his legs folded up under him, gawking up at her.
“What are you staring at me for?”
“I’ve never – ”
Randy put out a hesitant hand and ever so gently touched her arm.
“Are you some kind of ghost?”
He looked around again.
“Are you – ”
He leaned in, talking in a whisper.
“Are you dead?”
A nurse came around the corner and stopped abruptly, spotting the empty bed in the far corner where Randy should have been.
“Randy Andrews,” the nurse said, her hands now on her hips. “You get right back into the bed and you stop playing around, please. They are ready for you in surgery.”
Katie watched as Randy scrambled on all fours under the beds and back up onto his, pulling the sheet back over top of himself again.
She started to ask him about his question, but couldn’t get the words out before his parents appeared at the door.
Katie sat there quietly, watching Randy stare back at her from under his sheet. She glanced over at his parents and the nurse, noticed Randy’s dad had no hair on the top of his head.
Are you dead?
What kind of question was that?
The snap of the wheel locks being disengaged on Randy’s hospital bed jarred Katie out of the confusion she was in.
The doctor she’d first seen was now at the door, waiting for Randy.
He was his surgeon.
They wheeled Randy out of the room, his parents following right behind, disappearing to the left, heading for his operating room.
The pre-op room was empty again.
Are you dead?
What kind of crazy question was that?
The nurse came back through the double doors.
“It won’t be long now,” she said.
Katie tried not to think about the dull ache growing just behind her sternum.
The nurse disappeared around the corner as Katie watched the double doors to the operating rooms slowly shut.
Buy my book Our Daughter and begin the adventure of a lifetime, as you uncover the mysteries behind Katie Cadora’s new life after the horrible accident that stole her mother away from her. Will she find sure footing again? Will the pain ever stop? Will she discover the secrets her new foster family are keeping from her? Is the boy’s question right? Is Katie Cadora actually dead?
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But, trust me when I tell you, there are deceivers in our midsts! Get started in this bone chilling suspense novel right away and find out why….sometimes….you’re just better off DEAD!