We watched this 2003 Tim Burton movie with the kids the other night. I haven’t seen this one in years, but I’ve always had it tucked in the back of my memory for a time…like now…when our kids were old enough to at least appreciate the imagination and creativity that a non-animated movie like this has to offer them…while also serving our more mature minds a heavy dose of lessons layered upon lessons. You know, kind of movie that you (a) really need to pay attention to, (b) you may need to rewind a few parts to actually get what you think you’re almost getting, and (c) want to rewatch a few more times with a fresh brain because, if you’re like me, you’ve come to embrace the fact that your brain just isn’t available enough for a movie above, say, the level of Wedding Crashers.
All of the lessons aside, though, I think the cord this movie struck with me has more to do with how, at least for me, I’ve let my brain grow up too much. Not like I’ve gotten too smart, because that obviously hasn’t happened here. But, I’ve let my brain take over trying to figure out how things are supposed to work, what facts and truths are out there for me to learn, and just generally what makes sense…and, what doesn’t.
The beauty in this story, in my opinion, is that sometimes “embellishing the truth” can make life more beautiful, more interesting, and more exciting than we “know” makes sense. Yes, of course, I’m not talking about lying in an effort to make yourself look better than someone else. But, there’s a difference between embellishing the truth and lying; embellishment is just making what’s actually happening more interesting, more moving. Lying deceitful, it’s rooted in things that just aren’t true or real at all.
When I talk about what high school was like, I basically set the scene from the movie Grease. In my mind, we walked through the hallways in a fully choreographed dance wearing gorgeous pastel colored poodle skirts and guys chased us in their leather jackets and motorcycles. Yes, we danced at cheerleading practice and wore our uniforms to school on game days…and, the guys chased after us. But, I don’t think it was all happening at the same time. And, nobody rode a motorcycle.
When I think about my grandfather, who was my best little friend, I have a feeling I do the same thing. All I remember is him always dancing around the neighborhood, always with a whiskey sour in his hand (which was always raised up in the air for some reason), always wearing the tie-dye Ben & Jerry’s t-shirt I stole from the ice cream store I worked part time at, and always smiling. I don’t think he ever, ever wasn’t smiling. A family member recently asked me if I thought he was an alcoholic, and I thought they were psychotic. “He just loved whiskey sours! That’s all.” The second I even began to consider if that had been true, I decided to only ever go back to the embellished version of him that I had only ever believed.
I don’t know, I just think there are times, and people, and situations that we are dealing with now that we have no control over changing with any real success…and, without causing some serious damage if we even tried to change them. So, why not do what kids do: use our imaginations to make them more acceptable, less painful, and just better than the real thing?
If we all end up in a better place because of it, what good does the truth really serve?