Rachel McAdams and My Existential Crisis

Have you ever eaten something that was heavenly, absolutely divine, orgasmically good? Afterwards, you didn’t want to eat or drink anything else because it would ruin the bliss that your taste buds were experiencing, the palate party happening in your mouth.  That is precisely how I felt after seeing the movie ‘About Time‘ on Wednesday night, except it wasn’t my taste buds and palate I wanted to preserve, it was my perspective, the euphoric state of my brain, my sensory memories from the past two hours, and overall feelings and emotions. I didn’t want to watch a TV show, read a book, or even have a deep conversation with anyone for the rest of the night because I just wanted to sit and think about the movie, I needed to process it all. I wanted to piece together why it touched me so much, why it had me sobbing  like a freshly-dumped teenage girl on my 30-minute drive home from the theater. Except I wasn’t crying sad tears, okay maybe a few sad tears, they were mostly tears due to being emotionally and mentally overwhelmed and at completely at peace, all at the same time.

In today’s fast-paced and quickly evolving society, many of us have succumbed to living in a perpetual state of existentialism, I know I often feel that way. The movie ‘About Time’ made me forget about my perpetual existential crisis. It made me remember that we, as humans, are always going, going, and going…but where are we going? The answer is nowhere, and that is okay. Every moment has the ability to become humorous, enjoyable, and momentous no matter how seemingly unimportant it is. I can read inspirational quotes and positive affirmations until I’m blue in the face, and some of them resonate within me, but nothing has come close to what this movie did for my soul, my perpetual state of existentialism. And in all honesty it feels a bit silly- a Rachel McAdams movie? Life changing? Don’t get me wrong I love Rachel McAdams, but I was expecting to walk into a chick flick and have a few chuckles here and there, roll my eyes at the predictable cheeseball romantic lines, and walk out feeling mildly pleased with the cliche happy ending love story. 

I did walk out feeling pleased at the happy ending love story, even though it wasn’t all happy things that happened in the film. And it wasn’t all about a budding love story between two people as much as a love story about life, and learning how to turn your own life into a love story without relying on someone else to come along and do it for you. And that was exactly the point that I took away from the movie: life has a lot of terrible, unimaginable, difficult events to face and overcome, but it is still possible to be happy and love the life you live no matter the obstacles. At one point in the movie, the narrator recites a quote during a poignant scene from Mary Schmich’s famous piece “Wear Sunscreen”:

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

This quote, along with many others in the movie, resonated deep within me. Maybe it was the beautiful and perfectly timed music soundtracking the movie, the near empty theater, or my overflowing with positive energy friend sitting next to me, but it hit hard. It felt like someone was hitting me upside the head with a bag of bricks and was urging me to stop stressing about my “problems” because problems are inevitable and will happen regardless of how I mentally prepare myself (read chronic anxiety). Over and over again I experienced “aha moments” throughout the movie, and remembered how wonderfully beautiful my own life is. All by watching actors on a screen act out lines that some thoughtful, eloquent person wrote over the span of the past few years. It was a movie that was so much more than a movie, it was a reawakening for my inner belief system that happiness and peace of mind is a daily choice no matter what you’re dealing with. That way of thinking is something I work hard at making my “normal”, but it sometimes gets buried deep, deep down. Sometimes I can’t even find it, even though I know it’s there somewhere. Sometimes I just need a reminder, and as a very visual person, the movie ‘About Time’ is the best reminder I could have asked for. 

I sobbed for the last 15 minutes of the movie and continued to do so on the drive home. I downloaded the movie soundtrack and sobbed while listening to it and reflecting on my own life, fully enjoying the waves of emotion washing over me. I know, it’s a bit masochistic. While I normally try and keep my emotions in check and float between a 5 or 6 on the scale of sanity, it felt good to give into them. I was deeply moved by the movie, and perhaps it’s natural for your body to physically respond to a change in perspective like that. 

What a wonderful surprise, to think you are going to sit in a theater to kill time with a silly movie for two hours and instead be reminded of how easy gratitude and a simple life and mind state can be. I can’t possibly explain in words why this movie touched me the way it did, but I know I’m not alone in my experience.

Maybe we are all waiting for some idea or moment to save us from our existentialism, to remind us that why we’re here doesn’t necessarily matter, but it’s how you spend the time you are given. Only then will we begin to understand the why. 


20 thoughts on “Rachel McAdams and My Existential Crisis

  1. I wanted to see that movie the second I saw the preview. I’m so glad to hear it’s so much more than a chick flick. And thank you for this reminder! It is way too easy to get caught in the shuffle and beat yourself up over expectations and I’m so happy to hear that I’m not the only one that needs that nudge.

    • Yes, so much more than a chick flick! In fact, there was a group of four guys sitting behind my friend and I, I was pretty tickled to see them in that theater without dates lol.

      You’ll definitely get a nudge to remember to enjoy every single moment if you see this movie, I hope you like it! 🙂

  2. I am interested to learn why you feel existentialism is negative. Are we not responsible for creating our own experience and therefore essentially the state of our existence? Barring unforeseen circumstances that are beyond our control, of course.

    • Hmmm…you bring up a really good point. I guess I’ve always viewed existentialism as negative because the people who “have it together” don’t feel a sense of “why am I here?”, they know why. But that probably isn’t the case at all. I guess it just seems sometimes that if I’m always thinking “what’s my purpose, why am I here?” then I’m not doing as much for myself or the community or society as I could be. I think it’s a way of me challenging myself, making me want to do more and have more of an impact. So again..I guess you’re right. It’s a good thing, hah. Thanks for that perspective. I wonder if famous movers and shakers (Mother Teresa, MLK, Ghandi), ever felt existentialism. It’d be interesting.

      • I wonder if the fact that movers and shakers have impacted our history in such amazing ways is a result of their existentialism. It is a gift to be aware of the world outside one’s self and realize an individual can stimulate change because we are powerful beings. We create our reality, we are fortunate. I think a lot of people, including myself, allow themselves to get so caught up in the daily grind, we forget we don’t have to be so emotionally, or mentally, constipated.

  3. As always I find your thoughts poignant and perceptive. In my responses to people I have to stop myself from giving advice or reassurance, because that is not what you need. Nor is it the reaction I had to reading your words. I don’t care what the catalyst is, a Rachel McAdams movie or a song. I have those moments sometimes, caused by strange, embarrassing things. Being a guy, we are taught to hide our emotions from everybody. This has an effect that they sneak out of us when we least expect it. Emotions are not good or bad they simply tell us what we need in life. Anyway, I have had outbursts like this(too embarrassing to mention). They are reaffirming and introspective and pull me out of my daily selfishness. It seems like you have come a long way in the past year or so, with hypnosis which is a form of meditation and understanding the power of your mind and thoughts and the effect they have on your physical experience of life. Perhaps now life is turning you to look at your emotions for some reason. Growth is a full time job, and each step that I take only tells me that I have many more to go. Thanks for sharing this and enjoy all of those moments of insight and refocusing. Be grateful for them, they are taking you where you need to go. 🙂

    • Oh, thank you so much for your thoughtful and thought provoking comment! I always love reading your feedback, and thank you for your compliment. I could not agree with this more: “Emotions are not good or bad they simply tell us what we need in life.” Sometimes it is hard to remember that, but it’s so important to listen to them. I truly am enjoying my random moments of insight, and I hope to continue to learn from them. Do you practice meditation? It sounds like you have a lot of experience in listening to oneself.

      • I have been practicing meditation for about a year. My insights are from not listening to myself very much. It is hard to explain how my journey led me to where I am, but it did. I read your insights and know that you are so far ahead of where I was at your age. I am a bit jealous of that. I always was a slow learner. 🙂 Keep up the great writing.

    • He wasn’t with me 😀 He probably would have sat there quietly anyway though, a wife sobbing because of a movie is a little intimidating for any man I think haha!

        • Ohhh yes! In fact she understands perfectly, she is the same way. She’s one of those friends I feel energized after seeing, very rare to have friends like that! Introverts do good for other introverts lol.

          • Like I’ve mentioned before I think, there should be Parties for Introverts, where everyone understands that you can have fun, but then there are timeout chambers, where you can sit and re-energize or process info. I think I will pitch it to the Shark Tank.

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