“How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life…”
How many times have you sat in solitude or loneliness and assess your life. Looking at the sum total of your existence. Investigating the commitments, the relationships in your life. Pondering, “Is this all there is?”
“Up in the Air” takes you on the journey of Ryan Bingham [Clooney] as this question infiltrate his casual life constructed upon the goal to acquire 10 millions frequent flier miles. To shed the complexity to which Ryan leads his life is to forget the dynamic nature of humanity itself.
Ryan Bingham is a metaphor for us all. He is what many Gen Xers seek to escape from. Ryan Bingham is a caricature of the boomer generation. The greatest our nation has to offer, achieved at the expense of personal connections and intimate self-sacrifice.
Ryan is dynamic. He is a juxtaposition of tender compassion and passionate lone wolf. He travels the sky staying long enough to gratify his longings and departs just when he may awaken to the needs of the Other.
Ryan sells his self-sufficiency as the way to liberate ones self to the possibilities of the world. I am reminded her by the similarity in philosophy of Christopher McCandless [AKA Alexander Supertramp] as he sought to liberate himself from “attachment” only to discover that which he wanted to flee from was that which held him in humanity. The biggest difference between Ryan & McCandless is that McCandless’ flight is rooted in the empty materialism of American society. Where Ryan Bingham seemed rooted in fear and an inability to connect to others.
This film was beautifully shoot, simple and not wanting. It carried the story of a man seeking something more from his life as he is awakened from the slumber of self. I enjoyed the performance of Clooney. There was great chemistry between he and Vera Farmiga. Anna Kendrick grounded the performance of those around her in an honest portrayal of a young and ambitious Natalie. Jason Bateman, Zach Galifianakis, & Sam Elliot shine in their roles.
I think the conversation between Ryan and Alex near the end of the film sums up the state of many of us as we emerge from yesterday and enter into our own. Alex says to Ryan, “I thought our relationship was perfectly clear. You are an escape. You’re a break from our normal lives. You’re a parenthesis.”
Looking at the world [Christian ministry] to which I occupy I often wonder to what is my faith a parenthesis too. To whom am I a parenthesis? Does Christianity hold the honor to being a parenthesis to anyone?
The relevancy of faith to this nation is as dynamic and compelling as Ryan Bingham’s traveled life. We to are wayfarers sojourning to find a home, a people, a family to belong. Faith [church] is not the answer to the question “Is this all there is?”
The question is the beginning of faith and faith is the journey to which we belong and it is the journey that delivers answers as it connects us to something larger. This is where Ryan & Chris are misguided. Life is not about escaping the Other. Life is at its best when we are subject and bound to others. Life is a placeholder for truth, hurt, sorrow, joy, pain, victory, defeat, and faith. It is not about the weight of your backpack as much as it is about who you hike with.