Choice or Chance? Free will or B’shert (Hebrew for ‘meant to be’)? Divine Plan or Random Occurence? Do you believe that you are at the effect of a Higher Purpose for your life that was scripted by God or that you make choices moment by moment? Perhaps a combination of the two?
These are the themes of the recently released blockbuster movie The Adjustment Bureau. Starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, it takes their characters of New York senate candidate David Norris and ballet dancer/choreographer Elise Sellas and places them in a series of experiences that challenge the intent of a team of dark suited, hat wearing mystery men. At nearly every turn, they do their best to keep the erstwhile lovers at bay for a purpose to be discovered near the end of this poignant film that had me smiling in recognition and anticipation of its plot twists.
Fascinated with the repeated imagery of mirrors and a multitude of doors, I noted that it reinforced the various options that life seems to present…or does it? What I enjoyed most about the film, is the nakedly honest spiritual conversation that takes place throughout. The head honcho; a character referred to as ”The Chairman” is clearly God although S/he is never seen n the movie and the members of the Adjustment Bureau are stand-ins for angels or as the most soft hearted, sympathetic one referred to as Harry, states ”We’re more like case officers.”
For every person, they carry with them a book that has maps and lines drawn on it and a series of swirling red circles with intricate designs that look for all the world like spinning chakras. Each line represents a path that the person is ‘meant to’ take. A series of events is slated to take place that would have Damon’s character engage in a particular experience that is ’supposed’ to have him narrowly miss re-connecting with Blunt’s Elise, but because ‘chance’ intervenes, it never occurs and they do indeed come face to face years after their initial meeting.
At one point, a member of the team sent to re-direct Norris implies that human beings have botched the world royally when allowed free will so that they needed to regain control of the goings on of humanity. Once Norris has “seen behind the curtain you weren’t supposed to know existed.”, upon discovering the true identity of these beings, he is instructed not to divulge the secret or his brain will be ‘erased’. Good motivation to remain mum.
What happens when we resist the ’plan’ is an ongoing dialogue between ourselves that “God of our understanding”. The film asks more questions than it answers. Can love triumph over destiny? Are our fates so interwoven that one choice, one seemingly inocuous decision, effects someone elses’ outcomes?
I enjoy considering the ways in which the threads of my life have been woven that have me meeting certain people so that I could have particular experiences that take me places I likely would not have gone, had those earlier events not have transpired. I joke with friends and folks that I interview, for example that perhaps the reason I know them at this point in my life, is that however many years ago, the seeds were planted that are now coming to fruition that have allowed for this very moment in time to occur as it does. Things that would have been inconceivable at earlier points in my life, now come into perspective; even and perhaps, especially the challenging or painful times.
What are some of the defining moments of your life?