Saturday, July 18, 2009


I just took my three youngest children to see "Up," this summer's Disney/Pixar movie. They all said they liked it, and I thought it was ok.

The main story is a fun adventure in which an old man and a boy fly to South America in a house lifted by balloons. But the first ten minutes tell the story of the old man's life. As a boy who dreams of aerial adventure, he meets a girl with similar dreams. They eventually marry and live out a "Wonderful Life" sort of story in which everyday life always gets in the way of their having the adventures they dreamed of. Then the wife dies and the old man ends up lonely and forgotten. (Ben asked, "Why did his wife have to die?")

Here is the place to confess that while I think "It's a Wonderful Life" is a great film in its quirky way, I hate it. I hate the thought that raising children, supporting a family, and all the other regular stuff of normal life make it impossible to have adventures. I find George Bailey's story really, really depressing. He should have built skyscrapers and traveled the world. I don't want to end up like him. Not that I have anything against marriage, family, work, and lawn mowing, I mean, this is the life I've chosen, and I chose it because marriage, family and home were more important to me than anything else. (I could do without the lawn mowing.) But I want adventures, too. I suppose it is fortunate that I have been born into such a wealthy age that this is possible, at least in a limited way. Since I started breeding I have been to China and England, written one book and half of another one, dug on a bunch of exciting archaeological sites, and done my share of wild and crazy things. And I have ever reason to expect that I will go to more places -- Italy, Ireland, and Mexico are high on my list -- and do more amazing things.

So, honestly, I don't have anything to complain about. But "It's a Wonderful Life" and the first part of "Up" depress me, because they drive home the message that life is about choices, that you can't have everything, and that family and marriage, at least for a good person who takes responsibilities seriously, are a huge impediment to an adventurous life.

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