The Valentine’s Day Gift That Keeps On Giving

When I heard what the much-talked of 2013 movie “Her” was about, I was intrigued.  I had to find out what the deal was with this guy, Theodore.

 “What kind of loser falls in love with his computer?”

 

In The Talk R-evolution Manifesto, I rant about how disconnected most people are, preferring relationships through a screen than in-person.

“Her” is a movie about a lonely guy who works as a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac.  He composes “hand-written love letters” on his computer for couples he doesn’t know.

He falls in love with an artificially intelligent operating system called “Samantha,” (expressively played by Scarlett Johansson’s sultry voice).

 

The film’s plot exceeded my expectations.  It’s not just a story about our increasing reliance on technology to communicate with each other.

 

[blockQuote position=”center”]”Her” is a story about how incredibly fragile we are when exposing our deepest, most vulnerable parts.[/blockQuote]

 

There’s a scene where Theodore is fixed up on a semi-blind date with a friend of a friend.  She’s quite pretty and sweet. She has a sense of humor.  She and Theodore exchange goofy banter.

They relax long enough to find the chemistry between them.  Theodore’s awkward throughout their date, but to his surprise, she didn’t seem to mind.

After their date, the woman felt comfortable enough to kiss him and ask for sex.  Interpreting Theodore’s reticence as playing hard to get, she playfully grabbed his crotch.   Theodore stammered in response and doesn’t advance.

Watching that woman’s face fade from confident desire to insecure neediness was painful.

 

Poignantly, she asked if he was one of ‘those guys’ who have sex with her and never call. 

She looked to Theodore for reassurance that he’s not that guy.  Finding none, she’s bewildered.

Her instincts were saying, “No, he’s not that guy.”  Her past experiences with men, on the other hand,  interfered with her carefree impulse. 

She didn’t appreciate that Theodore had a cargo bay full of emotional baggage too.

 

Responding to her fears rather than to the guy standing in front of her, she dismissed him: “You’re a real creep,” leaving a confused Theodore (and movie audience) staring at her departing back.

Eventually Theodore did open up — to his ever-loving computer.   

Given how wonderfully thoughtful, understanding and forgiving “Samantha” was, who could blame him?

 

One of the best movie quotes I’ve heard in a while happened when Samantha tells Theodore how upset she had been by a careless remark he’d made.

After running his words through her ‘mind’ over and over again, it suddenly occurred to her how silly all that processing was.

Being an OS, she had no point of reference prior to Theodore’s comment to justify why she was so emotionally effected by it.

With a computer’s equivalent of a shrug, Samantha said:

[blockQuote position=”center”]“…The past is just a story we tell ourselves.”[/blockQuote]

 

Isn’t it, though.  How often our ability (and inability) to connect with others depend on what we tell ourselves about our past?

We mentally rehash mistakes made — confidences betrayed — questions left unanswered — relationships that ended sooner than we would have liked…

These memories sneak in at inopportune moments. They crowd out our ability to be emotionally present with the one in front of us.

We get distracted by ghosts, hoping that person will look past the ideal image we project for the world to see.

We wait in silence wondering when they’ll acknowledge the oozing heart-sores hidden underneath.

We search for someone who will say: “Yes, I see your ‘stuff’…and it doesn’t matter to me.”

 

[blockQuote position=”center”]Yet, how can we expect someone else to be more generous in connecting with us than we are willing to be with ourselves?[/blockQuote]

 

We start being self- generous when we accept that the past really is just a story we’ve been telling ourselves.

[blockQuote position=”left”]Cut yourself a blank check – every day, every moment – and start over.[/blockQuote]Who you were — what you’ve done — whatever people said you should have been instead — however you’re led to believe that ‘this’ is what you deserve from life…

Give these all a rest.  

Do this, and the next time you’re having a moment of unadulterated fun with the one you love, you’ll enjoy that moment for what it is – a priceless gift you are giving to yourself.

The gift they receive in return is equally priceless.  It’s you – clear, authentic and present.

 

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