Do you seize the moment, or does the moment seize you? Youth is both an infinity and finite. The moment is always right now.
Pressure is a choice.
It’s scarcely believable to me, but a quarter of a century
ago today (Saturday 1 October 2016) was the day I first went away to university. A
moment in time, simultaneously as huge and as tiny as any other.
For a shy, introverted type like me (even more so on both counts
then than today), leaving home was a serious jolt to the system. I can
recall the night before heading off for university, walking with my friend Sarah
around the small
town where I grew up, reminiscing about people and places from
our young lives (some of which have gone, yet some – as the song suggests* – remain). I felt lost, it all felt so final.
I can recall the trepidation and worry of first setting foot
on campus so vividly that it seems like a moment ago, not 25 years. But what was so all-consumingly and so painfully now, is now so very then.
The infinity of your youth
Richard Linklater is a director who captures like no other
the magic of youth, both as you experience it in the moment (in the infinity of
your youth, which you know will never end) and as you recall it (after life informs you
that what seemed infinite actually does end, often rather
abruptly). His rambling films are somehow rich with the poetry and possibility of youth,
while on the surface depicting the most mundane – or even outright stupid – youthful activities.
Last weekend I watched his latest film, Everybody Wants
Here, Linklater looks back to
his own first weekend on campus, some 36 years ago in 1980.
The stupid is strong in this film. But the poetry is present and correct, too.
Captions count down the hours and minutes until the first
lecture of the
new semester, as a college baseball team bonds, boozes, bones and generally “bro’s down”***. I can confirm from
what I witnessed during my
four-month exchange programme to Rutgers University in New Jersey in 1993
that the film’s anthropological depiction of jock behaviour is pretty spot on. But Linklater transforms what could easily be an alienating litany of macho idiocy into something quite lovely, quite charming, and even – in its closing scenes – quite romantic.
Pressure is a choice
is a world away from my own experience of the first days of
university. Unlike the self-proclaimed “Greek gods” of that film, I felt lost, alone, washed ashore. Self-doubt and worry, my two lifelong companions (who like nothing more than to egg one another on), took over. I
would love to be able to go back and tell myself that nothing bad was going to
happen, to relax into it (I could even have learned from the simple philosophy of one of the guys in
Some!!: “Pressure is a choice.”). That all would be well, that eventually I would
meet remarkable folks. That if I tried to imagine what my life would be in a
quarter-century’s time, I would have zero chance of predicting it accurately.
am happy to know now that should I be so fortunate as still to be around in 2041,
life will once again have taken such wildly unpredictable turns that I have
not have a hope of predicting it accurately.
Always right now
previous film, Boyhood, is a masterpiece. Everyone needs to see it. Filmed over 12 years so that the actors age in time with their characters on screen, it follows its central character, Mason, from boyhood. Its final sequence shows Mason’s
first day on campus (quickly ditched for a stoned ramble through the canyons).
The closing lines of dialogue are perfect
Linklater****. At once mundane and stumblingly inarticulate, yet
possessed of a pared-down poetry:
“You know how everyone’s always saying ‘seize the
moment’? I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, the moment
“It’s constant, the moment, you know, it’s like it’s
always right now.”
Exactly. The moment is always right now. Pressure is a choice. What’s next is better than you could ever imagine.
Bonus competition: The most 1990s sentence ever?
As this post harks back to the 1990s, I would like to
include a bonus mini competition (with no prize). It takes three parts – feel free to complete
both or neither.
Firstly, do you know (without resorting to Google or any other
search engine) the name of the film from which the following line of dialogue
emanates? A line of dialogue which I would venture to describe as the most
1990s sentence ever:
“I can’t find my Cranberries CD. I gotta go to the quad
before anyone snags it.”
And as part the second of this mini competition, if you
know of a more 1990s sentence than even that one, please do share it
Thirdly: Can you get any more 1991 than these two cultural artefacts? (Note for younger readers – these were called compact discs…)
* Surely everyone knows the song to which I refer? But just in case…
I love the Steve Browne-esque use of double exclamation marks there, even
if the reference is really to a Van Halen song.
*** Is “to bro down” even a verb? Hopefully you know what I mean…
**** I sincerely hope it doesn’t count as a spoiler to reveal the dialogue in the final
scene in which some might opine that very little actually happens.
Essential Richard Linklater masterpieces: