The other evening, as I was putting the finishing touches on dinner and Lori was grazing through the tv menu, the unmistakeable sound of Deodato’s fabulously jazzy rendition of the Theme from 2001 burst into the room. ‘How great is this’, I thought, ‘one of my favourite movies of all time is just getting underway’ and on commercial-free TCM to boot.
The movie I’m speaking of is Being There, the final work of that great comedic actor Peter Sellers. If you have never seen this movie by all means seek it out. I won’t go into a detailed plot description except to say that it revolves around a mid-fifties man who has never been outside of the compound of a house in central Washington DC. His life's work has been to care for the gardens. He has encountered no humans save for ‘the Old Man’ and a black woman who was the single all-purpose servant. His name is ‘Chance’…Chance the Gardener. He watches tv and tends the garden…and nothing else.
The old man has just died, the house is being cleared out and Chance is put out on the winter streets of a now crumbling neighbourhood, dressed in gentleman’s clothing from the 1930’s…the old man’s.
Chance is an innocent, a babe in the woods, unaware of the worlds dangers and so he is completely unafraid.
As events unfold, he finds himself in the household of America’s wealthiest financier, who’s life is being sustained by his in-house hospital and the latest medical tech, and his much younger wife.
How Chance finds himself in that situation and how the rest of the movie unfolds all happens because of Chance’s utter lack of guile, complete honesty and absolute fearlessness…AND the strangely believable misperceptions of him by every other character.
Every time I watch this flick something new is revealed. The other night it was the idea that reality, as we think of it, is nothing much more than a projection of our own perceptions, of our own determination of what is real or true, and how those projections are contagious and thus affect the perceptions of everyone we encounter and so on and so on.
I admit it’s a bit difficult to wrap one’s head around that…the idea that we bring ‘reality’ to the world rather than the other way around… but the more you think about it and reflect on your own moment to moment state of mind, the more you must realize that your state of mind is absolutely your own creation. Whose else could it possibly be? No matter what happens, our reaction is completely at the mercy of our perception of the event, and as we all know, one person’s perception of the world and it’s happenings will invariably be at odds with another’s.
All perception is based on belief…on experience and learning and understanding yes…but those are the foundations of belief.
It is the belief in something…the faith in it’s truth or reality that allows for the creation of that very reality.
Yes? No? Maybe?
Well, it does help to explain the mad mad mad mad world on which we live, don’t ya think?
I mean, if we could all just agree, all the billions of us, on what is true…what is real…what has value…
Well…then we wouldn’t really need the world anymore would we?
Anyway, the movie is hilarious