With age comes wrinkles, and if you’re lucky, wisdom. Although enlightenment has passed me by for the most part, that which has dawned on me I’m more than willing to share. This week I’d like to do exactly that by filtering my findings through the film Good Will Hunting.
In 1997, the year said film came out, I was sixteen years old. I saw it in theatre, but I didn’t understand it. Many may argue that it is a simple enough script for anyone to comprehend, and simply speaking they are right. However, the depths its dialog alluded to left me aloof, and in my ignorance, upset. It’s a simple formula I’ve found many of us live by: if we don’t get it, we don’t like it, and that’s our excuse. When confronted with how nonsensical this outlook is, an aggressive defence mechanism tends to kick in. We get even madder, even more adamant that our hatred is justified, and that anyone who feels otherwise is an adjective prefaced moron. It’s quite thee emotional cycle, and considering it all begins with confusion this is reasonably so. It’s also a cycle that is incredibly hard to escape.
With age I’ve learned that if I want to quit walking this line I’ve got to traverse outside of it. Meaning, I have to entertain two unsettling ideas: I’m wrong; and it’s not important to be right.
It’s gratifying to prove one-self right, and Will would agree. Whether before a judge, upon a chalk board, or within a bar he not only enjoys justifying his opinion, he entertains himself by belittling his self-proclaimed superiors. With each victory his pride and accolades increase. He avoids jail, gains academic attention, and impresses a girl. The first act see’s his success; the second unveils how little all of it means.
Save for a few circumstances why does being right matter? Is it because it makes us feel bigger, better, or brighter? Perhaps, but if this is indeed the reason than why do those around us disagree? Will Hunting is presented with this conundrum when his arrogance leads him into trouble. His Shrink calls him out for his ignorance, his girl for being inconsiderate, and his best friend for being an absolute idiot. Disarmed by their frustration he realizes how wrong he has been.
Thereafter, in act three, he realizes that being right matters little. Learning stops when knowledge is assured, and loved ones are ostracized by finger-wagging certainty. Will loses by being right, as we all do. I’ve experienced this myself. My rationale for disliking this movie was ridiculous, but then again my rationale for disliking anything seems to be the same. Just because I didn’t understand the movie didn’t permit me to hate it. And being right… it’s a dying concern. Like Will I’m ready to drive off into the sunset and find a little more wisdom.