Part 2: Connectivity

65. From Rigidity to Life – Chocolat the Movie

There is a movie called Chocolat that tells of people in a small town who are stuck in rigid rules and frozen ideas from the past.  What’s great is how this movie shows these people gradually letting go of their rigidity.  By opening to other ways of knowing and Being, they uncover a sense of joy that had been covered up by their beliefs about how they thought life had to be. Ultimately, all these beliefs are in the form of word-tools.

A pastor delivers the following sermon near the end of the movie – it illustrates some of the ideas behind loosening the chains of their rule-bound living, and the readiness to feel more and be more.

Do I want to speak of the miracle of our Lord’s divine transformation?  Not really, no.  I don’t want to talk about his divinity.  I’d rather talk about his humanity.  I mean, you know, how he lived his life here on Earth.  His kindness.  His tolerance.
Listen, here’s what I think.
I think we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do.  By what we deny ourselves.  What we resist.  And who we exclude.
I think we’ve got to measure our goodness by what we embrace. What we create.  And who we include.

Monitoring, measuring, and excluding is what word-tools support so well.  The this-not-that nature of word-tools reinforces exclusion and fosters belief systems that confine us to the past or consume our attention with the future.  

Our word buckets admit only one type of “this.”  They exclude all else.  That’s the consequence of a system of shortcuts – we use them as an alternative to the effort of physically pointing and saying: Here’s what I experienced firsthand.  I wonder what it will be like for you to experience and to come to know this on a firsthand basis.

We forget that words leave out so much of what could be experienced firsthand!  They leave behind the uniqueness of every “this” they admit into their category grouping.  As a dog, cat, or human being in reality, the criteria for joining the conceptual group is that you give up your uniqueness.

Words simply don’t connect us to life unless we use them as the limited tools they are.  Instead, these this-not-that devices detach us in a way that separates us from experiencing life firsthand.  And in a way, each word establishes a hidden sort of resistance to everything outside of its narrowly defined bucket.  

Words support us in resisting “what is” when we misuse them without acknowledging their limitations.  Without this acknowledgment, a concept/word-tool carries the resistance embedded in its this-not-that nature.

As I’ve been able to take first steps toward using words with awareness of their limitations, I feel so much gratitude.  I am grateful that words allow me to break things down into manageable pieces for my mind to work with.  And I’m grateful I can use words as tools for pointing toward experiences I want to tell other people about.  I wouldn’t be writing this book if I didn’t enjoy words so much.

However when I misuse them by granting them a power they don’t actually have, I find myself being rigid, resisting “what is”, and excluding life and other people as if I exist in a vacuum.  I experience suffering rather than enjoyment.  I am not happy.  I do not “feel good now.”  Words are tools that can serve me and those around me, if I use them in ways that contribute to our lives.  Words serve me when I use them in a way that aligns with Connectivity.

I’ve written in other sections that “If there is only me, there is no me.”  Creating the illusion of isolation by embracing exclusion doesn’t resonate in this reality of interconnectedness.

Despite saying that words are best not taken too seriously, I’ve found that my choice of words makes a difference.  Words such as embrace, create, and include help point me in an expansive direction, one that is more likely to allow me to realize and stay in tune with the Connectivity of life.

To me, the movie Chocolat provides an enlightening portrayal of people gradually loosening their rigid viewpoints of deny, resist, and exclude.  It shows them releasing themselves from being held by the demand that life be funneled exclusively through the confines of conceptually filtered beliefs.  As they sense something more than rules and traditions, they also discover inside themselves an enjoyment of pure and direct living, an enjoyment they could now be allowed to experience without the need to justify it with word-tools.  

Life is the starting place.  Words and all their combinations come out of the Connectivity of life, they come from Source.  And when people begin to realize words as only one of many tools, as only shortcuts for pointing, as only symbols for indicating, it may become easier for them to put primary attention on “what is”, on the reality that words are only tags for.

I loved watching the people in Chocolat as they restored the uniqueness and Connectivity that words can’t do justice to, and along with that, the vibrancy of living without the shackles of their this-not-that exclusionary beliefs.  

Chocolat, directed by Lasse Hallström, written by Joanne Harris and Robert Nelson Jacobs, (Santa Monica, CA: Miramax, 2000), DVD.
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