Thursday, February 18, 2010

'Up in the Air'

Two weeks ago I celebrated my first child-free day with a trip to the movies.  I saw "Up in the Air",  starring George Clooney.

Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is employed to travel the country firing people from their jobs.  He works for a company that enables bosses to outsource this unpleasant job.  And it is really unpleasant.  A constant theme running through the movie is the devastating impact that receiving the news of a job loss has on the employee.

However, Bingham loves his job.  He loves traveling.  He loves having his life in a suitcase.  He loves being an executive traveller.  He loves being disconnected from real life.  In fact he gives motivational talks on the side, about becoming successful by freeing yourself of the burden of both material possessions and personal relationships.  Initially, this independence appears glamourous and appealing.

It is not an action packed movie.  It is funny and thoughtful.  Not necessarily all beautifully resolved at the end (you have been warned!).  It moves steadily and as the movie goes on you become increasingly confronted by the deep sadness of this man's isolation.  I won't spoil it for you, but there is a romance.  Bingham also reconnects with his siblings because his younger sister is getting married.

I left the movie reaffirmed in my belief that serving others - my family, my community - is of great value.  The movie is interspersed with short comments by the people who are fired.  The recurring theme is it is those that unconditionally love you that really matter.  This is what will get them through this difficulty. It reminded me not just of the preciousness of my own family, but that I trust in a God who is always there - he is steadfast no matter the circumstances.

As an introvert, and in my selfish moments,  I can relate to the appeal of a life where you are accountable to almost no-one (half the time Bingham's boss (Jason Bateman) doesn't even appear to know where he is).  But this movie is a gentle reminder why this just doesn't work.  It reminds us that we weren't created to live in isolation.  And that the energy relationships take is worth it.

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