By Katie Ammon
As the heavy snows and long cold days of winter dragged on endlessly this year, our driveway became impassable and I had a bad case of “cabin fever”. One day, to pass the time, I watched three of my favorite movies. Afterwards, it occurred to me, the characters in the movies were on adventures to find something valuable. Many of us look for riches in the material world, to religious leaders or for some connection with the Divine. In the first movie, the key to the treasure was a map that led to a search for a large gemstone. In the second movie, after much turmoil, the character went on a quest to help a holy man. In the final movie, the man goes on a mission to find an ancient artifact that has spiritual significance.
The first movie reminded me that, much like our journey in this world, we are pulled out of our comfort zone and find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. The characters, a man and a woman, have a treasure map but are lost in a jungle, where the action takes place. They are on foot, hiking, when a heavy rain begins. The rain ruins their clothes, they slip in the mud and slide down into a mud hole, hack their way through the new jungle growth only to find themselves being chased by a kidnapper and the secret police. On their journey, the characters persist and find the gemstone. Towards the end of the story they are embroiled in a life and death struggle to hold on to their prize. In the end, they were successful and the movie ended happily. This reminded me that many of us will go to extremes to hold on to our material goods. Later, we realize that material success is only satisfying for a short time.
In the second movie, the same characters have been enjoying their success but have reached a state of ennui. Like many of us, they found material riches weren’t fulfilling and didn’t hold their interest for very long. Searching for a more satisfying life, the woman agrees to write a biography for a world leader, who claims he is trying to unite his country. After doing some exploring around the palace the woman finds it apparent his intentions are false. While looking for an escape route, the lady discovers another prisoner, a holy man, locked in the palace. Together they plot their getaway and vow to stop the leader. Meanwhile, the man allies himself with the rebel forces and goes to the palace to try to free the girl. He is ejected and begins wandering the city when he spots the woman and the holy man running across the rooftops. The three join together to flee through the desert. They were able to get through the desert and to the city where the leader was to announce himself ruler of the country. They were captured and hung over a pit. In a twist of fate, they get freed and end up dethroning the leader. In the end the holy man who is considered the “Heart of the Country” becomes the ruler. In this movie the characters put themselves in danger and sacrificed for the benefit of others.
In the last movie, the hero is sent on a mission for an ancient artifact that is supposed to hold the secret to contacting the creator of all life. First, he has to find a medallion that needs to be placed in a certain position to point to the location of his bigger treasure. He obtains the medallion after a lot of mayhem, but is thwarted in his greater quest by other treasure hunters. After getting away from some dangerous situations, he finally outwits his opponents and gains the artifact. Then he gets captured and loses the artifact. His captors open the artifact and it destroys all those who look at it. He escapes and turns the artifact over to the government but in the end he is never allowed to see the artifact again and returns to his former life.
Although the movies had humor, they reflected many other things in real life. At some point, we head down a path only to find ourselves going in a different direction. The new path might be a lush jungle with lot of new growth and adventures. We may even enjoy our struggles and find we can achieve material goals. Our idea may be that when we reach our material goal, we will find happiness and contentment that will last a long time. But it seems no material thing can hold our interest for long, so we continue to search for meaning. For example, in the second movie the characters had become disillusioned and entered the dry desolate desert country. There they championed the cause of the holy man. In our own lives, we may follow spiritual teachings and have a strong belief in them, until we set out on our own journey to find what rings true. We might even search for something deeper, like in the last movie. If we stretch enough, we could find that greater connection that empowers us. Just like the hero in the last movie, we, who find that power, may retreat back to the past, understanding we’re not ready for the responsibility of power.