A friend of mine says there is nothing like serendipity, fate, kismet or however you want to call the idea of life having a plan.
Sometimes I think my life would be easier if I believed that too.
On days like this one, I know there are instances in which free will only carry me so far.
Last night I watched “5–7” on Netflix. A romantic comedy about a hermit writer who falls in love with an older, married woman who he can only spend time with between the hours of 5 and 7pm. It wasn’t the love story that drew me in. The aspect of a writer, who is a loner, on the other hand stroke all my chords.
I remembered vaguely, some time ago, the same friend who doesn’t believe in serendipity, expressing her grief about the lead actor’s untimely death through a freak accident. It always strikes me as odd to watch a movie or something alike, in which the person is vibrant and alive but you know in reality they have taken their last breath and their eyes are closed forever. Yet, to my surprise, my focus was on the story of the lonely writer and if he would find the courage to dive fully into life or not. When you identify with something then naturally, that’s where you will look for answers.
I watched the movie, I laughed, I cried, I was inspired and I went to sleep appreciating exactly that - chapter closed.
Located at 6660 Santa Monica Blvd. is a casting facility I like a lot, because if I have time after an audition I go to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
I’ve been going to cemeteries since I was a little kid and I always loved it. Initially my mom and my grandma took me to visit uncle and grandpa. I learned to associate cemeteries with family time. Later on a feeling of peace and inspiration was added. Later, later on it was the only way to be physically close to the women who had raised me. Even though I don’t technically believe the cemetery is where you need to be in order to feel close to your loved ones, it does something for me no other place can. It reconnects me with everything there is and everything there isn’t. It let’s me see the part of the tree one can only see when the sun stands in a certain angle.
The “what is not” that isn’t obvious to the human eye as long as it’s occupied with objects only manifested in the three dimensional world. The harmony that is not actively played in a piece of music. The words not being said.
Today’s audition for the hero-architect’s co-worker number 3 was surely not what my ass came to Hollywood for, but the kind of experience that followed was definitely one of the reasons why my ass signed up for this life.
As I drove slowly through the quiet lanes leading through the different parts of where people are laid to rest and where peacocks pridefully strut as their keepers, I noticed a man who sat next to a grave by the lake. The plot was covered with extraordinary amounts of flowers and seemed fairly fresh. I kept on driving but something wouldn’t let me go much further. I was drawn to that man and his story and I didn’t know why. I pulled over and parked the car. Slowly I made my way towards him. I tried to convince myself that I was just strolling along, looking for some peace and inspiration but I undeniably moved closer to where the man was seated in a chair that had a little sun roof attached.
My common sense became louder. I couldn’t dare to talk to that man. It was rude to intervene someone’s time to grieve — but my legs kept walking. Here and there I stopped to read the inscriptions and fooled myself that I was there for all the tombstones, not just for a specific one. But I could feel that man’s energy and it drew me in. There was no reasoning with my gut. So I walked up to him, excused myself for disturbing and expressed that I could not not approach him.
“I am so sorry for your loss dear Sir. May I ask who you are grieving?”
“My son.” “How old was he?”
“27”, his voice barely managed.
Once more my brain tried to tell me that I need to leave that poor man alone and go about my way but my heart knew, this moment was my way.
“I am so very sorry. Losing a child must be the most horrible thing one has to go through.”
He couldn’t speak, he nodded, letting his chin sink lower with each move.
“May I ask what happened?” by now feeling like a blood thirsty, stalking reporter on the search for a sensational story.
“It was an accident… a freak accident.”
I stood facing the water and the father of the son, who was buried right next to my feet. I turned around and the picture on the grave showed the young man whose movie I watched last night.
Anton Yelchin played the lonesome writer that was battling preconceived ideas about life and marriage, for love — for art. The actor who so delightfully lit up my dark bedroom last night and whose voice started the movie by stating, “In New York you are never more than 20 feet away from someone you know or someone you’re suppose to know”, was under those flowers.
When I walked away, I regretted having mentioned my movie experience from the night before, as I knew for the father it didn’t matter how many films Anton had acted in. It was the least important information I could have given him. It wasn’t about Anton’s success or how many girls might have had crushes on him. For him it was about Anton’s heart, his laugh, his liveliness. It was about what an incredible person Anton was. It was about his only baby being gone, for Christ sake.
I called my friend. Perceiving the grief over the missed connection she shared with that boy, I felt my moment wasn’t over yet. I got off the phone and walked back to the graveside. My feet put one step in front of the other while my mind was yelling at me, to just let it go, get into my car and leave — but my heart.
“I am so sorry to bother you again Sir.”
He looked up, permitting me to proceed, “Go on.”
I crouched down. What then came out of my mouth could have been said by anyone who has similar belief systems to mine. I’m not claiming to have delivered anything that he might not have known already. But it was me who said, I don’t believe in death but rather in the ongoing existence of the energy that we all are. It was me who said, his son wouldn’t want him to spend most of his days sitting by the grave and grieving for a life that was never really extinguished, but rather yearns for him to celebrate the glory of the life he did have. A life with wonderful parents who always supported him.
It was me, who dared to say she believes his son would want him to have fun again, until they eventually reunite.
“Life is supposed to be fun. Yes, we suffer and I can’t even imagine what you must be going through but I know it in my heart; your son wants you to be happy.”
I reached out and touched his foot that was dangling down from his crossed over leg. “Please. Be happy again.”
This time, when I walked away, I didn’t regret having said what I did.
And as I got closer to my car, passing all the other people who once had lives, I couldn’t tell if the “Thank You” I heard was the father’s voice simply echoing the words in my mind he had just said a minute before, or if I was dipping into a field that is available to anyone who wants to listen to the words that aren’t here.
Sometimes I do wish I could just write funny stories and make people laugh all the time, as I do believe humor simply must be the solution to anything. Then I think, there must be a reason for why I have experienced so many deaths in my life, a reason for why I connect with those who suffer. It might not always seem pleasant, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be healing as well.
And like Anton’s character in the movie I watched last night, I want to make the decision of living life to the fullest and experience all of it; heartbreaks and disasters included. I want to be brave enough to encounter the strangest and scariest of situations. How else am I going to write about it. How else am I going to be at the right place at the right time and perhaps be of help to a grieving parent, even if only for a serendipitous moment.