Friday, February 5, 2010

Up & Up In The Air

In Pixar's Up, Carl, a quiet, old square, inters himself indoors, transforming his cottage home into a shrine for his beloved and departed wife.  Shunning human contact, Carl instead lives in the dust of his past and the regrets of unrealized ambition.  When he is finally forced out of his home, he chooses a unique solution - Carl attaches thousands of balloons to his chimney and floats the whole building to Peru.  His plan is to simply set the house down next to a waterfall and live quietly, but along the way, he gets saddled with an overeager Adventure Scout, a troublesome bird, a talking dog, and an adventure he never asked for.

Carl comes to realize that the things - the house, the objects - that he has accumulated don't make up his life.  He learns that his house (wherever it's located) is not his home and that while he yearned all his life for an adventure, his life was an adventure in itself.

We find Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney in Up In the Air) in a similar airborne epiphany.  A professional traveler, Ryan's philosophy is to that the more baggage one has (physically and emotionally), the more weighed-down one's life becomes.  He lives only in the present, never letting the dust settle, never wanting more than what he needs. Unlike Carl, who is only comfortable at home, Ryan is comfortable anywhere else. He leaves everything and everyone behind and insulates himself through detachment.  As a corporate downsizer, his job is to deliver hard news and then disappear from peoples' lives, but when he undertakes one last trip, this time saddled with an overeager post-grad, he begins to question his philosophy. A trip to visit a family that barely knows him really drives things home.

Like Carl, Ryan comes to realize that a life well-lived is the real adventure and that there is real value in relationships, family, and people.  They just had to uproot everything to get there.

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