Saturday, March 05, 2011

Adjust Your Beliefs, Higher Consciousness Demands It

The morning began strangely for me. I had a nightmare that jolted me out of my sleep. In the dream, for some reason, I had lost my current job and had to go back to work at my previous place of employment. Out of punishment for my joke, they only paid me $5 an hour. This so angered my dream self that I was yelling at the office manager (whom I actually like in real life. She's a good person, who retired at the end of 2009) about the unfairness of it all and I just ripped on every single one of the negative energy drama queens at that office. Then I woke up. Whew! I can't believe that I'm still having nightmares about that place. Call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder!!!

Anyhow, on Wednesday, I grabbed a copy of the latest Willamette Week (the free alternative weekly newspaper) and saw a review of The Adjustment Bureau. I wasn't sure I wanted to see it. I had seen the previews and it looked intriguing, but I thought it was yet another CIA-type film. The review in the paper wasn't glowing. The writer seemed to have a problem with the film's spiritual content. Wait a minute...spiritual?!? When I read the reviewers critique of this movie, particularly complaining about the spiritual message of the film, I immediately became interested in seeing this film. Amazing how a cynical review can turn me from a "maybe I'll see it eventually" to "I need to see this opening day!!!" That's the power of inspiration on me. I love movies that inspire me. I love walking out of the theater feeling inspired to do something or to look at my life in a different way. This film sounded like the kind of movie I love to see.

So, what's it about? Without spoiling the movie for you, I'll keep it basic, like all the other descriptions I've found online. Matt Damon plays an ambitious up-and-coming politician, David Norris, a Congressman from New York on the verge of being promoted to the Senate. He meets a lady named Elise (played by Emily Blunt of The Devil Wears Prada fame) and they have a short conversation that ignites a fire inside Norris. The fire? He decides to give the most honest speech of his life and it earns him even greater respect and praise.

One morning, Henry (played excellently by Anthony Mackie, who looks a lot like a fellow Yeoman I knew on my last ship in the Navy) is tasked with making sure that David spills coffee on himself "no later than 7:05 a.m." Why? Oh, you'll find out if you see the film, so go see it already!! Anyhow, a chance encounter with the mystery lady he met on election night causes a big enough disruption regarding his "plan" that a team from the Adjustment Bureau are assigned to his case to make sure that he sticks to his plan, which doesn't include falling in love with this lady. For the best interests of their chosen career paths, they are a bad match for each other. Each would sacrifice too much of their personal dreams / goals / ambition for the other. Yet, the only thing that matters to Norris is how this lady makes him feel. He doesn't care about a future without her in the picture.

Pictured above are a few members of the Adjustment Bureau, who work for "The Chairman" (I'm sure any teabagger who sees this film will see a liberal conspiracy in this film, where God is given the same title as a certain genocidal leader known as Mao). The guy in the foreground is Henry, a true-life soul man. He's a bit of a rebel, willing to break the rules to help Norris understand his choices in regard to his predestined path. The next guy in line is the leader of the team (played by John Slattery of Mad Men fame). His task has been to watch over Norris all his life to ensure that the future politician lives true to "The Plan." As he told Henry at one point, he had waited a long time to be assigned a "red letter person" and the minion turns out to be a major "pain in the ass." Norris has a strong will. Even when told of his destiny, he still prefers to risk it all for the sake of love.

The members of the Adjustment Bureau wear fedoras, which I thought was way cool, because the person I ghostwrite for gave me a gray fedora for a Christmas gift. I was stunned. I love it!! Now, I can be stylishly cool like an Adjustment Bureaucrat!
I'm not going to reveal any more about the film, because it truly must be experienced knowing as little as possible. I had hopes going in that this would be a great film and that I would leave the theater walking on air and thinking about life. Well, let's just say that I was truly impressed. This may be the greatest movie I've seen since Forrest Gump for the first time in 1994. I've seen a lot of movies over the years and more than a few have impressed me in one way or another, so the fact that I'm saying that The Adjustment Bureau is the best film I've seen in about 17 years is saying a lot. Yes, I like it better than Inception, Minority Report, Serendipity, and The Matrix (all films that this one has hints of). I don't just like it, though, I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!! I felt goosebumps during some scenes...the good kind of goosebumps, which I get when something I'm exposed to truly resonates deep within my soul. This is the perfect film of the Obama Era. I may have to write a post later analyzing this film in relation to President Barack Obama. There seemed to be some allusions to that with how they made the character of David Norris.

The writer / director is on to something here. The story was written by science fiction writer Phillip K. Dick, who had written other short stories that were turned into successful movies: Blade Runner, Total Recall, The Scanner Darkly and Minority Report, to name a few. I've never read any of Dick's stories, but maybe its high time that I do. The guy was a true visionary. I'm sure there are cynical people out there who might leave the theater thinking it's only a movie. One reviewer in an article on The Huffington Post actually mentioned that he was certain that there were no men in gray suits and fedoras trying to keep us humans on track with our chosen paths. Maybe not in a literal sense, but in a spiritual sense. I definitely believe that its highly possible that we have spirit guardians who try to keep us on the path that we had pre-set for ourselves before our sojourn on earth. The Chairman is obsessed with humans living according to His Plan and He only offers false choices to give humans the illusion of free will (you know, the inconsequential choices like having Coca-Cola or Pepsi during lunch).

What drives the film is the ultimate question: will Norris choose his ambition (The Plan) or will he risk everything for the woman he's smitten with (Free Will)?

One of the many things I love about the movie is that when members of the Adjustment Bureau explain to Norris how they work, not every accident was done by them. Things can happen because of free will, but sometimes they have a hand in it when they are able to push you back on the path with minimal "ripple effect." Having Norris spill coffee on himself one morning on his way to work was one of those moments that create a chain reaction. I agree that we can't look at every little occurrence in our life as "pre-destined" or "fated." For example, the lady from church who claimed that my subconscious attracted the rednecks to throw blocks of ice at me when I was walking along the road a month or more ago. She's become a New Age-y spiritualist, believing herself an empath and thus "qualified" to interpret my life. Yet, I felt in my heart that the event was inconsequential in the realm of things. I was protected from the ice (as those rednecks missed me) and it hasn't happened again. Nor have I crossed paths with those people.

In contrast to that inconsequential non-event, when I was robbed in Johannesburg in 1994, I felt at the time that it was pre-destined. It was one of those moments that I was meant to have because of how the experience would shape me as a person. When it comes to spirituality, its difficult to be a judge in someone else's experience because we don't know the thoughts and feelings that another person has when they have their experience. We waste so much time focusing on other people instead of our own spiritual development. We need to become experts on our own lives, because figuring out what events might have been pre-ordained is tough work. After I walked out of the theater, I wanted to sit down somewhere and go over my timeline of personal life experiences, looking at each significant event from the perspective of an Adjustment Bureaucrat. I may, in fact, try this on Sunday afternoon. In case you're one of those godless cynics who believes that this movie is just a good imagination, well, go ahead and laugh.

For me, though, I believe that we are somewhat bound by our individual plan, that we had drawn up in the pre-existence. I don't believe that its God assigning each person a personal destiny. I believe that free will is God's greatest gift to us and free will means allowing our souls to set a plan for the life to live on earth. When we live according to our plan, we experience synchronistic flow in our lives (this happened for me in the years 1991, 1992, 1994, 1997, and 2000). When we go off plan, we experience frustrations, delays, closed windows and doors to opportunities. This was my professional life from 2007 through 2010. No matter how many places I applied to, I felt like all doors and windows were shut and locked, keeping me in the nightmare of a job for reasons that are still unknown to me at this time. However, I have no worries that I will learn the real reason at some future date. I went through similar during my BYU years and a few years after I had left, I learned the reasons I was "sent" to BYU (to meet my core group of friends on the Washington Seminar program).

Another thing I love about this movie is the idea that God favours the bold. Taking a huge risk in the name of love is always a good thing from a spiritual perspective. The lady I really liked who fell in love with a Dutch guy and gave up her life in America for him did exactly that. I didn't understand her choice, but that was a sign of love and trust. Even though I wanted a relationship with her, I never took that leap of faith for reasons of my own conservative nature. I'm not a huge risk-taker. My biggest flaw is the tendency to "play it safe." It was this tendency to play it safe that led me into accepting a job offer rather than go to the interview for the job I really wanted. The last four years of hell bears testimony to the depression that ensues when I don't take a risk for my passions.

I believe that I was finally able to get an "adjustment" to my situation last September. I definitely believe that I was destined to be fired because the experience showed me that it wasn't the end of the world. So many people fear getting fired, but I was at the point where I did not care anymore. I hated that job so much that it proved to be a blessing. One friend of mine would claim to want to have proof for why I believe what I believe, which is absurd to me. My last check at that job from hell had the number 044400 and when I looked up the number 444, I learned that it was supposedly a spiritual number that the universe is watching out for you. Also, my last day at work was a 9 day, which indicates an end of a cycle in numerology. September is the ninth month, and I was in a personal year 9 (the last year in a cycle. This year is a 1 year for me, according to numerology). All this indicates that the end of my misery had finally come, and I was blessed to land a job in the most difficult month to be hired (December). The job also matched almost all of my desires for a dream job (except for the pay). Stuff like this happens a lot in my life, which is why I don't need actual evidence to prove that we live in a spiritually-directed world.

I still don't know what my destiny is, though. What plan did my soul put together for this life? All I know is that nothing fills me with blissful euphoria as much as: 1) traveling, 2) writing, 3) reading, 4) music and 5) spiritual ideas. I still want a job where I get to do all that and get paid a salary that matches my age (which means I should be making $39,000 this year. I'm no where near that amount, unfortunately. In fact, I will most likely turn 40 without having come close to making even $30,000 in a single year). I want to be a novelist more than anything, though. I really want my Navy novel to sell and inspire a debate about the sexual culture of the military and how the sexual harassment of women is related to homophobia.

Anyhow, this film is just amazing. On the way back home from the theater, I was wondering why the best spiritual movies are often unintended. The premise of this film is not overtly spiritual. After all, in Hollywood, spirituality has to be universal to appeal to the widest mass of filmgoers as possible. An all out spiritual film (such as The Celestine Prophecy movie, Conversations With God movie, Peaceful Warrior) has generally not hit a home run the way movies like Contact, Minority Report, Gremlins and Empire Strikes Back have. Its weird to get spiritual inspiration in movies that aren't specifically spiritual.

It is my hope, though, that when this year ends, The Adjustment Bureau will still be ranked at the top of my Best of list. Its one I want to see again and again, for inspiration and for information about how our spiritual world might work. I know, I know...its "just a movie" but I'm feeling that "burning in my bosom" sensation again, which according to Mormon missionaries claim that it means you have found "the truth." Yeah, for once, I have to agree with them. If you only see one movie this year, please make a point to see this one and open your mind to what's possible.

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