fm : frequency modulation, fathom from
I have been incessantly watching Bridget Jone’s Diary. Okay, not incessantly, but I have watched it three and a half times in about as many days. Maybe it’s because the holidays are approaching. Maybe it’s because I want Colin Firth to make lots of babies with me. Maybe it’s because it’s the end of the semester and I need films that are funny and easy to watch. Now is not the time for Requiem for a Dream.
But I think the real reason I’m watching is because I find Renee Zellweger’s Bridget Jones to be such a likable protagonist. She’s funny and well-read, but she fumbles. She doesn’t say the right thing all the time. In fact, she often says the exact opposite of the right thing. She loves her friends and she struggles with insecurities about her weight and appearance, her job, her single status.
I can easily watch the opening sequence over and over again because I see my shadow self so clearly in it. Who has not had that moment? That moment of sitting on your couch in your pajamas, hair disheveled, teeth unbrushed, watching lousy television, listening to the radio and singing along to some song in the lines of “All by Myself,” having a pity party, cursing the gods, feeling like a complete fuck-up, finding it hard to believe that this year will be any different than the last? Tell me you’ve never had a moment like this, and I’ll tell you that you are a liar.
I had plenty of beautiful moments and experiences in the past year. I’ve had my share of hard ones, too. Yet when I think back to New Year’s Eve, I can’t feel much of a difference in my actual self from then to now. At a gathering at a friend’s house, we all partook in a ritual in which we beckoned in the new for the new year and burned messages that contained all we wanted to shed. Many of the things I beckoned for last year have not yet emerged. And I have done work at the shedding but some of the same habits, patterns, and insecurities are here. If I’m honest with myself, I can see the nuances of change, both in my life and in myself, but the changes are not always as demonstrative as I had hoped or expected. Beyond this, my life feels steeped in uncertainty at the moment and uncertainty is quite good at seducing anxiety and doubt. Everything is okay, but lately both the ups and downs, the moments of joy and the disappointments, feel heightened and intertwined.
So, I think I find such satisfaction in the movie because within a two hour block, Bridget Jones is embarrassed and depressed, resolves to change her life, fucks this resolution up royalty, lives vulnerably, opens up to possibility in life and love, says and does foolish things, finds more self acceptance, and, of course, love: from herself and from others.
I like it because it is packaged and condensed and easy. Not like life and yet enough like life that it allows me room for trusting.
After her lip-synching to Celine Dion, she narrates her desire to change. She says, “And so I made a major decision. I had to make sure that next year I wouldn’t end up shit-faced and listening to sad FM, easy-listening for the over-thirties. I decided to take control of my life…and start a diary: to tell the truth about Bridget Jones—the whole truth.”
I like the idea of Sad Fm because it feels like such a ripe metaphor. (It reminds me of KFKD, for those of you who have read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.) Sure, there is the literal act of listening to sad songs about love left, love gone awry, lives fucked up, seemingly irrevocably. But it feels so apt for the times in which our minds circulate around the same fucking songs, the same damn static. The static that says, at full blast no matter how gingerly you turn the dial: Not enough, Not smart enough, Not loved enough, Not pretty enough, Not worthy enough. And the songs with refrains all about past mistakes and your undeniably abysmal future. Sad Fm is the mind’s way of separating us from the world around us, isolating us and making us feel as if we are not connected. And Sad Fm is only one station but when you are listening, it feels like the only station. As if there is a sumo wrestler sitting on your chest and preventing you from standing up and just simply switching the dial to the radio which is a football field’s length away. The force feels that real and strong.
But it’s not. I began this post earlier in the week, and today, I am listening to a different station. Know what helps? Little things like watching a movie with a protagonist that isn’t fully realized and developed, that struggles to honor her worth and accept her whole self and yet still manages to walk through life, living and being vulnerable and fucking up and standing back up and dusting herself off. That is a protagonist I want to root for. That is a protagonist I can offer love and compassion to. That is a protagonist that reminds me to offer that same love and compassion to myself.
Rob Breszny, author of Free Will Astrology, writes in his book Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia: “Have you ever been loved? I bet you have been loved so much and so deeply that you have become blasé about the enormity of the grace it confers. So let me remind you: To be loved is a privilege and prize equivalent to being born. If you’re smart, you pause regularly to bask in the astonishing knowledge that there are many people out there who care for you and want you to thrive and hold you in their thoughts with fondness. Animals, too: You have been the recipient of their boundless affection. The spirits of allies who’ve left this world continue to send their tender regards, as well…You are awash in torrents of love…Think about that. In your life, you have been deeply and completely loved. Probably many times. Many more than maybe you are even aware of, with a depth that you might not be able to fathom.”
Awash in torrents of love.
Embedded within the movie is the best romantic movie compliment of all time. That being when Mark Darcy tells Bridget he likes her just as she is. Her friends retort, “Just as you are? Not thinner? Not cleverer? Not with slightly bigger breasts and a slightly smaller nose?” No, just as she is. This is the hardest thing to do for ourselves and the thing we desire most from others. To be loved, with all our flaws and with all our beauty. To be loved not despite but because of all that we are. Such a remarkable gift, this blessing of hearing through the static and noise to the place of acceptance and of being seen.