One Day, Baby, We’ll Be Old

Forgive the hiatus from the blog. I’d like to plead tropical vacation but that would not be true. Instead, with the push of the book over, I’ve been taking a bit of a break (cardinal blogging sin, I know) and I’ve been writing and shoveling snow and reading and shoveling snow.

And last night I went to the movies.

Oh, people. I went to the movies and my experience was everything art should be. It was extraordinary. I cried into my coat. I laughed. I was spellbound. I came home and didn’t quite know who I was. I was undone.

The film was a documentary: The Crash Reel. It told the story of Olympic hopeful snowboarder Kevin Pearce who suffered a catastrophic accident in the lead-up to the last Olympic games. Because Pearce had been both a potential Olympian and a young snowboarder, a lot of his training and goofing around was recorded on video. Possibly a documentary was already in the works when his world was shattered.

Now I really like the Olympics and snowboarding tricks come about as close to my dream of flying as anything I’ve ever seen, but even if neither of those has any appeal to you, this film should.

Only about three minutes into the start of the movie, the viewer sees Kevin’s crash–one that would have been fatal if he had not been wearing a helmet–and the rest of the movie goes back to previous footage to show how he got there, ahead to watch how he, his family and his team attempt to recover afterwards, outward to look more broadly at the sport, the sponsors and the spectators and the role we each play in this. To say the story is compelling and beautiful is an understatement.

At the end of the movie, the credits roll over footage shot several years before the accident, footage of a joyful nighttime snowboarding romp by Kevin and by his competitor and teammate, Shaun White, the Olympic star of the sport. The visuals are accompanied by a haunting acoustic song by Israeli songwriter Asaf Avidan, called One Day/The Reckoning Song. Have a look and listen here:

The song repeats two lines over and over again: One day, baby, we’ll be old/Think of all the stories that we could have told.

As I stumbled out of the theatre at the end of this movie, I felt, as I said, undone, transformed by the beauty of what was told as a complex, mature, intelligent, challenging story with compelling and very real characters. The song echoed in my head as I drove home, stunned. And then the words began to sink in: one day we will indeed be old. I began to think of all the stories that I could have told. And then the stories I could tell.

What I love about the Olympics is the striving for glory. I know there are drugs. I know there is corruption. I know there are so many problems with them–and this movie pointed out more. But there is also the chance to come nearer to flying than anything else. The doing what you love, what you are made to do. I find it deeply inspiring.

And so too this movie. I take my hat off to film writer/director/producer Lucy Walker who has told a story that is worth telling and who didn’t just let this be a story she could have told, or one she could have sort of told.

Children watch Olympic athletes and think: maybe I could do that. I watched this movie and let it go deep within me and then, as a writer, dared to think: maybe I could do that.

One day, baby, we’ll be old.
Think of all the stories that we could have told.


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