Watching Afternoon Delight makes for a pretty crazy evening. The life of LA Silver Lake mom, Rachel is turned upside down when she decides to save a young prostitute and bring her home so she can give her a new life. Indeed, not clear who is giving life to who: Is it really Rachel who is helping McKenna, giving her a good home and a decent job as her new live-in nanny, taking care of her son and the other kids who attend the local JCC? or perhaps it is McKenna, the “sex worker”, who shows up just in time to shake Rachel’s perfect life falling apart (or perfectly falling apart life) with the “chic modernist home, successful husband, adorable child, and a hipster wardrobe” at the Jewish community of suburbia?
In spite of Rachel’s best intentions to save the “young girl”, who had “such a hard life” and who “really, really needs me”, it is not Mckenna who needs saving but the girl inside of Rachel that silently and politely and appropriately (and with her useless therapist) would like to shriek for help, that needs to break through and feel life once again in its fullest. While she can’t attend to herself directly, she can do so through someone else, someone she wouldn’t dare imagine herself as being, yet she needs now to become in order to cut lose and rearrange her life.
The rearrangement, by the way, and not to spoil it for you (trust me, I’m not), is mostly internal. Everything stays: the beautiful house, the patient, darling husband (How I met Your Mother’s Ted), the lovely child, and the cute doggy too. But life within that has become stagnant, regains its flow.
We live our life in a metaphoric “figure eight”, looping around and around: we give and we receive. Sometimes we give directly; and at other times, not only we receive, but our gift is our ability to receive so that another can feel a sense of giving…. The best we can do is flow. From modern researchers to Chasidic master to yogis, feeling that flow, that breath of life through us, is as close to happiness as we can come.
When my kids were young, I told them that Yom Kippur is like taking a bath: During the year we play around. We get dirty. Now it’s time to wash it off and start another year of playing!
All that is true for us too. We need time a chance to pause and clean out the clogged pipes blocking the flow in our own system.
Oh, and guess what, I think I also told my kids not to eat in the tub too…
With that, hope you have a meaningful day. chatima tova & shana tova.