Monday, September 01, 2008

A Life of Joy

A few days ago, I watched "The Bucket List". Two total strangers - an arrogant billionaire (played by Jack Nicholson) and an ordinary mechanic (played by Morgan Freeman) - with nothing in common except that they've both been diagnosed with cancer, wind up sharing a hospital room. Witness to each other's sufferings during the course of their treatment, they eventually become friends.

Confronted by the fact that he's got just months left, Freeman's character Carter starts jotting down a 'bucket list' - a list of all the things he would like to do before he "kicks the bucket". Nicholson's character Edward also puts in his suggestions, and since he's got nothing but money, says they should just go out and do it, instead of waiting for the cancer to claim them.

And that's what the movie's all about - them doing the things and seeing the places they've always wanted to, in the process bringing about a much-needed transformation in each other, so that they return better men to spend whatever time they have left with their families.

It may not be a great film for many people (hubby dear, your guru Roger Ebert gave it only a 1-star rating), but I quite liked it and sentimental fool that I am, even shed a few tears at the ending.

But there was this one idea / thought / philosophy in the film that I felt was very important, and which is what prompted this post. There's a scene where both characters are in Egypt, sitting atop a pyramid or something. Carter, who is a history buff, is telling Edward about the Egyptian concept of heaven. He says that when people died, they were asked two questions at the gates of heaven, and their answers determined whether or not they got in.

Question 1: Did you find joy in your life?

Pretty easy, right? I suppose most of us would have a resounding YES right away.

Question 2: Did your life bring joy to others?

Not so easy, isn't it? Can you answer 'yes' as quickly or firmly as you would have for the first? I couldn't. Not right away. I thought of my family and friends, and I'm ..... reasonably sure that overall, I'm a joy for them (though inside, there is this niggling guilt for all the times I know I haven't been).

My motto in life, the one defining statement I try to live by is Christ's "Love one another as you love yourself", which is why these questions truly struck a chord. It doesn't say that you shouldn't be happy, no. You absolutely should. But just as you would be happy and find joy in your life ..... you need to care that others do too.


  1. Beautiful one :) and good questions . I also feel that my life must bring something positive into everybody's life whosoever i meet.and daily I pray to God-give me the strength and opportunity to do some good in life.
    and hey:) I am not doing it to go to heaven, heaven and hell ,all are here only.

  2. Anonymous11:05 AM

    They had this movie on the airplane last time I was coming back home but I ended up not watching it. I used to like Jack Nicholson a while back but lately I haven't had any interest in any of his movies.

  3. a colleague gave me the dvd to this one a couple of days back, and i had completely forgotten about it.. plan to watch it tonight now
    and the questions definitely makes one think.. infact, though nothing is so wrong with life,i cant answer a prompt and strong YES even to the first question

  4. Renu - you're right. Its such a great feeling when you've made someone happy, its a pity more people in the world don't do it....too busy running after the wrong things.

    Agnes - I think its worth a watch for certain messages that we need to be reminded of, messages that help steer our lives in the right path.

    ISH - do watch it....maybe actually seeing that scene & the movie might spur you to find that joy, coz life's just too short and flies away before you know it.

  5. Anonymous1:22 PM

    oh even im tempted 2 watch the film..we wimmen r a bunch of emotional fools ;-)

    Thnx for dropping by my blog

  6. ooohhhhh this movie has been in my 'must watch' list for sometime now.
    like Ish says I'm not quite sure about the 1st question itself leave alone the 2nd one. Sure I'm better off than most but still the feeling tht "there is more than this" haunts my psyche now & then.
    Yes...I knw I deviated from the ? u asked but for me it is I making any sense;-P?

  7. Shalom-pl chk my blog,, something is waiting for u:)

  8. Hi Shalom,

    Indeed a life of joy is a life loved according to what we really liked.
    In the movie, the rich people decide to live by spending their days in doing what they liked,. Its a pity not many of the people understand this. !!

    The same kind of emotions are well expressed in the book "To Kill a Mocking Bird".,. You should check it out.,.

    "If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years."
    Bertrand Russell

    I have blog-rolled you.,.Would appreciate if you could share your feedback about my blogs,..

    Keep Rising !!


  9. Swats - yes, plz do watch this film and thanks for visiting here :)

    Reflections - I know what you mean....the grass always seems greener elsewhere doesn't it? :D

    Renu - coming over now :)

    Prashant - many thanks for the blogroll and the quote.....its quite true and possible to achieve, but I think many people are just happy being unhappy.

    And the book is very definitely on my reading list :)