I saw the movie “The Theory of Everything”, about the life of Stephan Hawking, last night. Unlike most Hollywood productions it is full of kindness and inspiration, demonstrating the miracle of love and courage in overcoming grief and limitation. Adapted from a book written by Stephen’s wife, Jane, it tells the journey from the moment they met at a college mixer, until they parted and moved in different directions many years later. Along the way their strength and devotion is evident, along with a remarkable ability to keep moving forward and defy the threat of death (he was told when first diagnosed at about age 21 that he had only 2 years to live, and is now going strong at age 72). They were blessed with three children, lifelong friendships that offered him a full life, and fortuitous modern inventions that enabled the brilliance of his mind to be a rich contribution to physics and science. But along with his exceptional mind, what shines through this story is the power of love.
Most of us will never be faced with the extreme challenges that his illness brought into their lives. It is lesser losses that knock us into despair and sorrow. Although it is natural to grieve over a loss, there is a moment when spirit may rise above grief, assess what is possible still, and creatively enter the flow with whatever capacity still exists. Life is an opportunity for exploration, engagement, expression and love. We cannot always overcome pain and limitation but we can stand up against psychological suffering and find a way to make a contribution, and in doing so heal our deepest emotional wounds.
This movie shows the power of reaching out, of loving, of creating a meaningful life out of the circumstances we are given. Often those in spiritual practices hope to transcend the challenges of ordinary living, but to be fully awake is to meet these challenges with patience, creativity, and equanimity. When we discover our capacity to move into life in new ways, unimagined possibilities and intuitive wisdom can be generated , and each life is better fulfilled. We discover we are more than we believed ourselves to be, and some good can come out of the crazy inconsistencies in human experience.