Bargell: Carrying the load
A few weeks ago, when my sister asked whether we were hunkered down ready to watch the Oscars, I brushed off the question, explaining that we really don’t ever watch “that show.” So, naturally, where did I find myself at 8 p.m. on that particular Sunday evening? Captive before the square screen watching Anne Hathaway change dresses so fast your head would spin, all the while trying to answer my daughters’ incessant questions about why Anne had to keep changing her clothes. “Because she can” probably was a particularly unsatisfying answer, but it was the best I could come up with at the time.
Perhaps we’ve skipped past awards shows because in the last 10 years or so the only nominees we’ve actually seen in a movie theater were of the animated variety. Fortunately, this year “Toy Story III” was up for several awards so our entire family felt very much in-the-know.
It’s hard to imagine 37.6 million other people also tuned in to see the hoopla, all in the name of entertainment. It was shocking to me that I not heard of half (OK, maybe three-quarters) of the youngsters whose faces filled the screen. The faces of the “legends,” however, were all quite familiar. I was transported back to our family basement for a few brief moments when a hologram of Bob Hope appeared behind the podium telling jokes that made me laugh as hard as I did nearly 40 years ago. And, I could nearly hear Mom and Dad talking in the background, exclaiming they had not been to see a proper grown-up movie for at least 10 years. At that, I had to smile.
And the nomination of “True Grit” took me even further back in time. The original, with John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn remains one of my childhood favorites. So much so, we dutifully downloaded it to watch with the kids before taking in the remake. I had completely forgotten about Glen Campbell in the role of the young Texas Ranger, La Boeuf. Perfect hair and all, Glen was a good counterpart to Matt Damon (whose hair is markedly different from Glen’s). The girls, who did recognize several of the young actors, merely asked “Glen who?” This I understood, but I did wince significantly when they asked the same questions about John Wayne.
One quote from the show struck me, however, and I’ve been carrying it around with me since. In the tribute to Lena Horne the stage background read “It’s not the load you carry, but how you carry your load.” Horne was a pioneer in acting, and surely had quite the load to carry. In taking in the crowd at this year’s awards, I had to wonder whether the clothes-changing, red-carpet-walking folks had any real idea about carrying a load. But, then again, it seems neither fame nor fortune isolates one from the hurdles of being human (even though there are days I would gladly borrow a nanny or two from Brangelina).
The awards now seem quite glib in the face of last week’s tragedy in Japan. But perhaps they are not altogether irrelevant. Our penchant for watching the screen, whether large or small, has given us the ability to watch heartbreak unfurl before our eyes. It’s a visceral reminder that we’re all on this big blue ball together – seven billion of us. We all do indeed have our own unique load to carry, and there are times, too, when just getting through the day takes some grit. But, as we better understand the loads from around the world as they crash through the small screen and tumble into our living room, it seems to me Ms. Horne’s quote should have a corollary. It’s not just the load we carry, it’s how we help others carry their load …
Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She is a card-carrying PTSA member, real estate and natural resources lawyer and part-time gymnastics coach. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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