I don’t know when it started, but going to the movies by myself has become one of my most loved escapes. I don’t go as often as I did a few years ago (when I averaged a movie per week), because real life, real story, outweighs what happens on a screen. But I still love stepping into a different world, seeing how life looks through other eyes. And while I like the social nature of going with a friend or a crowd, I LOVE going by myself, being part of a semi-connected audience that might laugh and cry together, but won’t ask, “What did you think?” at the credits.
That’s the real gist of it, I suppose. Beyond the atmosphere (the friendly dark settling in, the perfect fixation of sitting just close enough to catch the full screen in your peripherals), I love the level of community. We are strangers sharing stories in the dark, and we will go our different roads home and remain strangers, but for a couple hours we will be tied up together in someone else’s world.
I went to see “The Artist” earlier this week, and completely loved it. As a verbose sort, I am enthralled when someone can craft a beautiful, engrossing story with so few words. And I was glad I saw it in the theater: there was something perfect about sitting in a mostly-empty theater, sharing this dip into the past with a handful of anonymous reactors scattered behind me.
I think I love other stories so much because they remind me that I’m writing my own. Sometimes I think about God’s focus on each of our stories in this context. It’s an imperfect metaphor—an audience has no power of deus ex machina—but I think there’s a note of truth to it: that He, in his infinity and immeasurability, sits in the third row, just close enough to see everything, and pours Himself over us like laughter and tears.