My 67 year old student, the now-famous Steven Lek from retiredowhat.com, has been
pestering telling me to watch this movie every single time we meet or talk over the phone. Every. Single. Time. He says it is to urge me to think about Life’s tough “What If” questions. So I caught the 2.10pm screening this afternoon at Shaw Lido, alone. Watching movies on my own is such a joy! Thankfully, this movie is anything but boring.
And yes, after watching this movie, and reading the wikipedia page about Stephen Hawking, you’ll be left scratching your head and wondering which portrays the truth. So here’s my theory (or theories) about ‘The Theory of Everything’:
1) When people recite their wedding vows about staying together “in sickness and in health”, they mean it… at that particular point in time. That point in time has confetti, and roses, and beautiful gowns, and happy faces.
I’ve always felt some animosity towards my aunt-in-law, wherever she may be now. She left my uncle when I was very young, right after he had contracted cancer. When he passed away, their son was left as an ‘orphan’ because the mother had run off and married someone else, and all responsibility of caring for him was left to our grandmother.
“That heartless woman!” was what I’ve always thought about that runaway mother.
After watching this movie, you’ll realize that it actually is not that easy to stick to those vows when your spouse is ill and more helpless than a kid. And when you have 3 young children in the house, plus one ‘big kid’, you just might feel like screaming and tearing your hair out, and no one can blame you, really. [I think the movie didn’t quite bring out this almost-desperate sort of feeling. Everything seems witty, a tad too rosy, and overly positive]
I think it helps that Stephen (the actor) is brilliant, witty and oh-so-funny. That probably makes him easier to live with. But what happens if your spouse is not brilliant, witty nor funny? What if he’s a negative old fart after becoming ill?
Most invalids are not as composed, and tend to have dramatic mood swings. It then becomes a real test of love.
So… before you get married, ask yourself “What if my spouse becomes an invalid one day?” If I have to feed him, change his clothes, comb his hair, wipe off his drool, take him to the toilet, bathe him, encourage him and try to keep his spirits up, comfort him, try not to strangle him when he does or says stupid things, etc? If you feel an instinctive urge to run away, then yes, run.
Don’t jump into marriage because society dictates that you must be married by a certain age, or it’s Chinese New Year again soon and nosy relatives will want a “status update”, or when you feel your biological clock is ticking.
It’s a freaking life-long commitment for most people. 😉
2) Love / Marriage is not about your happiness. It is about your commitment to the other person‘s happiness.
I think Jane is pretty admirable. Firstly, she marries Stephen despite knowing he has a supposed two years left to live. When he dies, after said two years, she’ll be a widow and that might screw up her chances (if any) of finding a good guy after that to marry.
And when Jonathan comes into her life, and they obviously have feelings for each other, they keep up a platonic friendship, as she is committed to Stephen. Wow. I bet it’s not easy to stay put when you can see that ‘happiness’ is just around the corner.
(Because of their Christian faith, it would be unthinkable for Jane to leave Stephen and get into an adulterous relationship with Jonathan. The hopeless romantic in me would like to think that Stephen left Jane (in real life) because he wanted her to be happy with Jonathan, who would be better able to take care of her. But whether this is the case or not, I guess I’ll never know)
3) People won’t respond the way you expect them to.
One would think that after all the sacrifices Jane has made for him, Stephen would not do something like fall in love with his nurse, Elaine, and get a divorce with Jane and marry Elaine instead. But it seems he does just that. And the movie tiptoes around this issue, probably ‘cos the people involved are still *ahem* alive.
So… WHAT IF, after all you do for your spouse, he/she still waltzes off into the sunset with some other fella? Now, refer back to theory #2.
If you’d like to catch this thought-provoking movie, go to the cinemas now. The screenings are probably ending soon.
Thank you, Steven Lek, for kicking my ass into the cinema. Indeed, there are many of Life’s “What if” questions to answer. And I’m not sure I have all the answers either.
And thank you, Stephen Hawking, for your brilliant contributions to science, and for making me think about what I’ll do if the fella I marry and have three kids with decides to be ungrateful and run off with some other woman, not for my sake but for his own. I think it might involve a lengthy blogpost. And a chopper (the blade, not the mode of transport). Or both.