The Prison in Our Heads

In the past two days I have watched two movies. It’s been one of those rainy weekends where staying indoors seemed like the best solution.

The Life of Pi, an epic Ang Lee film about a young man’s journey of perseverance and survival, was not only a 3D delight, but a soulful one too. In the end, the viewer gets to decide which version of the man’s shipwreck story is true. It was a visual rendering of our journey as human beings, the stories we tell ourselves to survive and the projections we create to convince ourselves that the decisions we make are valid. But most of all, it is a story about the triumph of the human spirit. No matter what life throws at us, we can lead happy lives in the end.

Eat, Pray, Love was the second film I saw. This time it is a woman’s search for herself. Through several failed relationships (including one with herself), Elizabeth Gilbert discovers that imbalance is indeed a part of leading a balanced life. Even toward the end of the movie, love scares her the most as she seeks a new narrative for her life. Will she lose herself once again in the arms of her Brazilian lover? The movie has a hopeful message that one needn’t lose oneself to share a life with another. In fact, one can come closer to the personĀ one is through the sheer presence of the other.

In both films, the theme is clear: we are prisoners of our own thinking about God, the world, and our part in it. Our belief systems, the way we are raised and the decisions society makes for us keep us locked into ways of being that often go against who we really are. In one heart-breaking scene in Eat, Pray, Love, a young Indian woman is betrothed to a man in an arranged marriage. The viewer is left thinking her life could go either way, not exactly a great comfort for those of us seeking our higher truth. She is bound to tradition in a life not of her own making.

The good news is most of us, like Elizabeth Gilbert, have the choice to free ourselves from our internal prisons if we choose to take that path. It is not an easy one, but a road that can lead us to an impermeable inner peace.

If you embark on a breakout from the prison in your head, know that you are not alone. I’ll be right there with you to remind you that the greatest pathway to your freedom is the pathway to yourself.

 

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