“No matter how much you change, you still got to pay the price for the things you’ve done.” -Town, 2010
Saw the movie Town today. One of the better Ben Affleck movies. His character says these words at the end in a parting letter to his lover. Initially, they struck me as profound. Something about them sent a gentle wave of nostalgia through me. It could have been the closing, dramatic music and Affleck’s reflective voiceover, but, for some reason, the words seemed like they were true to the experience of life. Encapsulated in them is a sense of opportunity and hope mixed with resignation, regret and tragedy—the perfect ending to a Hollywood film. Unfortunately, while these words may sound wise and contain the tried and true formula for pulling at a moviegoer’s heartstrings, I believe they are trite and destructive. They are, in fact, words of despair. They feign the nectar of redemption, but there is no true hope to be found in them. I believe where hope lies is when love short-circuits the cycle of karmic justice implied by this quote.
A perfect example of what I’m talking about is my mom. So many times in life, I have done selfish and deliberately destructive things to myself or to those around me. And so many times in life, my mother was there to take the blows for my actions. I look back, and I see her sacrifice so clearly now. And while it hurts me to think of how much pain she had to endure because of me, I realize what she did created the opportunities and the space for me to grow. She absorbed the retribution for my actions so that I could find redemption.
There is one who has done this for all of us.