Received from the giver.

“He knew that there was no quick comfort for emotions like those. They were deeper, and they did not need to be told. They were felt,” Lois Lowry, “The Giver”

Tonight I ventured out into the world and somewhat back into my tweenhood to watch The Giver. (Note: This post is probably going to go in one hundred different directions, so I apologize in advance.) In all honestly, I cannot recall when I first time that I had read The Giver. I can’t recall an amazing teaching experience or a favorite chapter, let alone the ending. What I do recollect is that there was something about this book that always got me thinking, so when I realized that the movie came out tonight, I had to explore if those questions were still there.. and there they were.

I should preface that, typically, I’m the type of person movie makers want to see at their movies because I tend to feel what they’d hope I’d feel. When I was seven, I cursed James Cameron for killing one of the most iconic romances ever (remember, I was seven) by not having Rose share the big door and questioned if a love like that would ever exist again. Freedom Writers taught me about passion and how important it is to be passionate about what you do in life while Eat, Pray, Love reminded me of the capability of inner strength. The list goes on and on. So, when viewing this movie having read the book and having chosen a life of teaching English, I couldn’t help but wonder what it was “they” wanted me to get out of this movie.

I won’t go into details about the stylistic changes and casting choices; those you can experience for yourself, and in fact, I recommend it. What struck me most about the movie, what I pondered as I walked through the parking lot and throughout the fifteen-minute drive home was the perception of life. (Here comes the multiple directions.)

  • As a generalization, all too often we take life for granted. I was just speaking with friends recently about our childhoods, and, compared with the upbringings of my students, I was and still am incredibly lucky. I could try any instrument that interested me; I attended more concerts before high school than most attend in a lifetime. My parents facilitated an environment of trial and error as well as one that promotes embracing what you love and pursuing where your heart is drawn. How many times do we actually appreciate the little details of our days – how the sun reflects off of a lake, how your favorite song sounds with the windows rolled down, how the smell of fresh brewed coffee fills your kitchen? There’s so much awesome around us and so much awesome that we experience daily, and I know that, speaking on my own behalf, I often neglect acknowledging it.
  • Taking a more pessimistic spin, I was also led to what I am living without – without love, without travel, without adventure. It was almost as if I had received a bucket list calling to get moving and make some things (especially love) happen. I’m almost a quarter of a century old, after all.
  • As I’ve written in the past, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher since I was in fifth grade. Did I really know? I think that, based on my surroundings, I convinced myself that that was right for me. I didn’t want to be a nurse like my mother or a driver like my father, a state worker like my grandfather or a banker like my grandmother. Flash forward to today, and I’m in the process of finding a way to change my path in order to achieve what I really would like to do with my life: become a counselor. So, I feel that I can relate to Jonas in that many people understand their paths of life, and I’ve hit a point where I feel I can do multiple things, so I’m not entirely set on one road anymore. This is also reminiscent of Divergent (I say this because I just watched it and loved it once more), not knowing your road because you haven’t unlocked your fullest potential but know that you’re destined for more than what is.
  • The movie made me think about how we treat and value people. In Lowry’s fictitious, seemingly utopian community, everyone had a role to fulfill to benefit society, and when someone couldn’t fulfill a role that would benefit the community, they were removed, “released to Elsewhere.” Here, humans are viewed as expendable. Is that not how some societies are functioning today? Is that not how our society is behaving? In terms of current events, regardless of your personal beliefs of who’s to blame in Ferguson, M.O., society is not treating society as it should. Human beings are not expendable; they cannot be sent to Elsewhere when two groups disagree, and that shouldn’t be the ultimate threat for disagreeing and speaking one’s mind.

I can’t say that this adaptation has become a favorite movie, but, considering how many ideas ran through my mind on the way how and how the storyline in and of itself can be applied to the daily life of this young teacher, I must commend both Lowry and filmmakers for taking such an interesting idea and turning it into a success.

Journey on, friends.
Ms. S.

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