24 June, 2007

On Million Dollar Baby


I can't ever remember being so emotionally affected by a movie.  Why?  What is the deep impact it has on me?  Why the reverberations?

I don't believe it is the obvious similarity between Mom and Richard's deaths and Maggie's.  I'm certain, though it is representative of an aspect of what I admire and am affected by.

When I think of Maggie I think of focus, singular desire, no distractions—nothing but One Love.  She had nothing else.  All the love of her heart she poured into boxing, training, and her coach.  She was nothing else.

She was simple, uneducated trailer-trash. . . no, she came from trash.  She wasn't, but she was poor, friendless, alone.  And she loved something passionately.  And she had Courage of the highest order.

She refused to be held back, not by her age, her history, her gender. . . her lack of a coach, or even her accident.  She lived completely on her own terms.  And she wouldn't stand for people trying to stop her.  Her dad had said, "You came into this world fightin', and you'll leave fighin'."


But why?  I've seen Frodo.  He was tragic.  Jesus. . . well, somehow I don't find Jesus tragic in the least.    The feeling is reminiscent of reading Stolen Lives.  I remember how I felt for Malika Oufkir.  Her characteristics and story are very similar: bravery, resilience, talent.  They diverge though because Malika was thrust into her suffering where Maggie chose at least part of her direction, she had that profound love that drove her.  Malika was driven by survival, love of family.

Yet they are both example of women of Power.  I can't offhand think of any other women like them.  I am in love with Maggie.  I didn't find her attractive physically.  But she so transcended everything physical. . . and that look in her eyes when Clint kissed her. . . she glowed, radiated. . . you could feel it.  I felt as Clint was meant to feel.  I could have spent the rest of my life serving her.  It is almost religion: I can imagine a life spent serving the divine in her form as a life aptly spent.  I can't explain it.

Why is she divine?  What is so so perfect about her?  What does she reflect in myself?  What am I staring at the I myself lack and am blind to?  I am not poor. I don't come from trailer-trash.  I have lots of friends.  I am not a woman in a waning man's-world.   More importantly, I don't have a single intense passion like boxing.


Let's leave that for a minute.  So she loved to box and with furious effort she excelled.  But notice now that nothing chances after the accident.  She is the same, in fact, more beautiful, more charming, more naked and radiant.  It was like. . . all of a sudden you could see her for her true self.  She never complained.  She hurt; she suffered.  And she bore it until with clarity she understood that life was now behind and not before her.  So with the same dogged determination that she attacked boxing she tackled the problem of dying when you have no physical control below the neck.  To kill oneself with the use of nothing but the head is quite a task.  Most people can't succeed with their full faculties.  But she tried.  Failed.  Then she tried and tried some more until they tranquilized her.  Anyone who has in truth seen those eyes, as I have, you then know there is no life in there.  I saw my mother's eyes just before we released her.  When I saw Maggie's drugged stare I cried.  How could anyone EVER imagine leaving such a woman with such spirit caged in her own body.  There can be no worse prison—and with the drugs even the mind is caged. 

To see her alive, if only technically was a torture.  To kill her, to free her seemed the only humanitarian act.  This isn't FICTION.  This happened with my mother.  Her brother Richard just made the same choice at the last moment, just as he had a stroke and would lose the power to control his own life.  Richard ended his life in his own way.  My mother needed us to release her.  But Maggie was all but alone—she had no one.  Can you imagine being crippled and having no one to love you?  I can't imagine the loneliness.  So coach stepped up and did what had to be done.  He acted when no one else could.

Remember One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest.  The big Indian did the same for Jack Nickelson after the lobotomy.  Same situation really:  a man with great spirit, but all life was taken from him, safe his body.  So the Indian released him as well.  Call it compassion.


I think (and fear) I envy Maggie as well as love her.  Her life seems to have a perfect symmetry.  She didn't need all the frills.  Remember: "Don't let them keep me until I can't her them chantin' no more."  Could have killed me......

I believe she tasted the divine.  She touched the holy.  What more can you ask of life than that??

Is this what I adore?  What I admire?  She did it.  She won.  She played her hand perfectly, like an artist.  Oh, it was a shit hand to start, but she crafted it into perfection.  She did it with heart, pure heart.  Motzart: "the secret to genius is love, love, love."  Yes, she makes the rule.


I have not her determination or her heart.  Remember Rudy.  Raw effort.  Why?  Because it is what is required.  But no one was watching Maggie.  She did it all alone.  This is where I fail.  She did it only for herself, and she could command such a high standard for herself.

This is in part because she knew what she wanted.  This is necessary.  But she didn't question or squabble.  Sure, I know I love travel and writing and climbing and the sort, but, no. . . I don't "really" know what I love.  The devotion she showed, for me, would require an unequivocal love that I've not known.

So perhaps I need to find it.

But do I really want to lead her life.  What about Aragorn, the living happy ever after. . . ??  Perhaps it isn't for me.  I still think it is. . . unfortunately.  Why do I want a tragic end??  An easy out?

The end isn't important but the consistency in her nature—one shouldn't change who they are because of what happens to them.  Book of Job.  If evil can change your faith then your faith missed the point, didn't it?

I've been reading a lot about tragedies and how they effect faith.  "The Swallow". . ..wow.  Good book.

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