Journey 326: Love the Coopers, Love Me

Week Four began today, in The Artist’s Way, and along with the start of a new chapter, I enjoyed my Artist Date as well. As with the previous weeks, this synergy exists between me, the date with my creative self, and the next chapter in the book. I don’t fully understand how this connection is occurring. It is enough to recognize that it is, and be both encouraged and inspired by it. 


I began asking my inner artist a few days ago to impress on me what I should do this afternoon for the Artist Date. Last night I felt drawn to see the movie “Love the Coopers”. I’ve seen a couple of previews for the film. It looked to be a warm, family comedy set around Christmas time. I’m always game for a movie. I checked show times this morning and saw that the afternoon matinee was perfect, time wise. Without holding expectations, I was curious to see how the movie connected to the chapter I was about to read in The Artist’s Way. 

Week Four, titled Recovering a Sense of Integrity, was amazing. I don’t write in my books, so that I can lend them out and not have my notes in the margin or my highlighted words distract the next reader. But I so wanted to underline words as I read today! The summary of this short chapter is “…grappling with changing self definition…introspection and integration of new self awareness.” 

Julia writes that we fall into the habit of saying we are “okay”, when we really aren’t. The Morning Pages are a tool for puncturing our denial, and helping us to stop saying “It’s okay” when life isn’t. I’m finding this to be true. The flow of thoughts onto blank pages every morning has helped me to go deeply into my creative side, but more than that, they’ve helped me to uncover long forgotten aspects of myself. Chekhov advised, “If you want to work on your art, work on your life.” Julia adds that in order to have self expression, we must first have a self to express. 

The Morning Pages, and I’m finding, the Artist Dates, are doing that. Clearing away old beliefs. Shining a bright light into the dark recesses of my childhood. Awakening my creativity, yes. And stirring my intuition. These connective leaps are taking place, that astound me. Julia says that will happen as I lose my vagueness about my self, my values, my life situation, and become fully available to the moment. Art, she writes, lies in the moment of encounter: I meet myself, I meet my truth, I meet my self expression. 

There was so much to savor, in this chapter, so much that echoed what I had just written in my Morning Pages before I read this section. My heart thumped in my chest, as truth sunk in. The image of who I am is coming more sharply into focus. I am knowing, and loving, me. 

With a great sense of anticipation, I took myself to the theater, to see Love the Coopers. This film, which is classified as a comedy but is so much more, has a run time of 1 hour and 47 minutes and carries a PG-13 rating for adult themes. It has a big cast that includes Alan Arkin, Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Amanda Seyfried, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde, June Squibb and Jake Lacy. 

I knew I was in the right place when the opening scenes of the movie began, and my eyes filled with tears before anything at all happened! Immediately I received another “ping” as the first song of the accompanying soundtrack played. I’d never heard the song before, until yesterday, when I downloaded a new music release and heard the same song there. 

I sat enchanted for the next hour and 47 minutes, my eyes often glistening with tears, as the story unfolded before me. Members of a large family are gathering for Christmas, each dealing with their own crises of identity. There’s the recently divorced adult son who hides the fact that he’s also lost his job. And the grown daughter who feels she’s a disappointment so she hides behind cynicism and a cutting wit. The mom wants a perfect Christmas together before sharing the news that she and her husband of 40 years are separating. The dad wonders how their lives became so small, and what happened to the passionate woman he married. Each person carries too much of his or her past with them. They are missing the moment, missing each other, missing themselves. Into all that chaos and struggle  the opportunity arises to see themselves and each other with fresh eyes. 

I appreciated this movie and understood why I was drawn to it. In the midst of life, of celebrating, of family, the Coopers remembered who they were, became more self aware. Life presents the same opportunity to me, meeting me exactly where I am. As I clear away the past, as I allow the future to unfold as it will, as I inhabit and embrace the moment, my true shining self is uncovered. And I no longer need to hide. 

“All the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.”  M.C. Richards