Happy New Year! I love saying that. It sounds fresh, hope filled and exciting. I was reflecting on this and actually remembered a moving movie that spoke to this concept. The movie is called Awakenings.
Awakenings is a 1990 drama film based on Oliver Sack’s memoir of the same name. It tells the true story of Oliver Sacks, fictionalized as an American Malcolm Sayer and played by Robin Williams who, in 1969, discovers beneficial effects of the then-new drug L-Dopa. He administered it to catatonic patients who survived the 1917-1928 epidemic of encephalitis lethargica. Leonard Lowe (played by Robert DiNero) and the rest of the patients were awakened after decades of catatonic state and have to deal with a new life in a new time.
Leonard was one of a dozen patients who had been in the hospital for as long as 30 and 43 years, in what appeared to be an almost hypnotic state. Toward the end of the movie Dr. Sayer gets a call in the middle of the night from Leonard saying, “Dr. Sayer, I have to see you, I have to talk to you.” When Dr. Sayer gets to the hospital Leonard jumps in and excitedly says, “We’ve got to tell everyone. We’ve got to remind them how good it is.”
“How good what is, Leonard?”
“Read the newspapers, it’s all bad. People have forgotten what life is all about. They’ve forgotten how good it is to be alive. They need to be reminded about what people have, about what they can loose. And what I feel is the joy of life. The wonderment of life, the freedom of life.”
At the close of the movie, Dr. Sayer is sharing his research and insights from his patients with an audience of his peers. He said, “The human spirit is more powerful than any drug. And that is what needs to be nourished. Work, play, friendship and family—these are the things that matter. This is what we had forgotten. The simplest things.”
When was the last you work up, planted your feet on the floor and said, “I love my life—the wonderment, joy, freedom and opportunity?” Tomorrow morning would be a great time to start.
Here’s to a fabulous 2010 filled with the things that matter most to each of us.