“You know what? The only ones gonna tell me when I’m through doing my thing, is you people here.” –The Ram to the crowd, in The Wrestler
I was watching The Wrestler with my mom last night. It was the second time I’d seen it, first for my mom. I’ve never seen it from beginning to end but, as usually happens, I caught something I’d missed the second time around.
I remember being saddened the first time I saw it. A broken-down, recently retired wrestler tries to conform to society’s norms but finds out he just doesn’t fit, despite all his attempts. He’s alone and decides to go back to wrestling, even though he knows he shouldn’t because of his recent medical issues. We’re left with an open ending, but the outcome is obvious (or should be). I just thought it sucked. Life had given this guy a bad break (in the end, at least).
Last night, though, I saw it differently. How many of us, myself included, have the courage to live as we choose, by our own rules and as we are? And, what’s the measure of a life: quantity or quality? Society would have us believe it’s the former but the Wrestler ultimately realizes the latter (whether he realizes it by his own accord or is led to it by setbacks is irrelevant). Rather than choosing a longer, mediocre life peppered with indignities he chooses to wrestle again – he chooses happiness – even though it will lead to his certain demise.
So, what’s the value of a life: is it measured by quantity or quality? Who’s brave enough to choose the latter?