When Quitting is not Quitting, But Just Rebelling Better
The final scene in the 2016 film Captain Fantastic involves no words, no gestures, no finishing, fading camera shots. It didn’t involve much of anything, really. Just the turn of a head from a table of children starting their day toward a window looking out upon the morning followed by what must be the most heartfelt sigh in cinema history.
If you’ve not seen it, you should watch the clip below, but I’ll warn you, not knowing the movie lessens the impact. But then again, that sigh is not meant for theater goers, but for every person who’s ever woken up one day entirely and utterly exasperated by their surrender to a life they didn’t sign up for, shaped by a society with which they disagree.
I cried when I first watched that scene, and could cry again now in spite of everything, with our children now grown, the decisions we’ve made reshaping the window we now use to look out upon the world. Everyone has at one point or another in their lives confronted that sigh, a moment in time when they felt the life they’d imagined slipping through their fingers and found in its place the promise, at least for the present time, that a less miserable, more meaningful life was just not possible.
For whatever motive, many of them reasonable, we adapt, we go with it, we capitulate. Because society does not condone, as Camus reminds us, the someone who becomes “so very free” that their “whole existence is an act of rebellion.” Rebellion, however, he goes on, “cannot exist without a strange form of love.” And so there is no reason that the adaptation cannot happen in the other direction. That is, to believe with great affection that a life with more meaning and less misery can exist and then steadily move toward it.
With rebellion, awareness is born —Albert Camus
Revolutions are chased with restless longing, ravenous hunger and a high seas of hesitation, but eventually the rebel learns to turn down the cacophony of bullshit coming from just about every angle and tune in instead to the heart thumping in their chest saying, yes, yes, oh my fucking god, yes.
Start with Listening and Listing
It is hard to think of yourself as a rebel when you’re just doing life the best you know how. Sure, you may sometimes question, What really is the problem? Can it be so bad if everyone is doing it? The answer to both is, You tell me. For rebellion to be successful you must stop listening to the crowds, comparing yourself to the neighbors, and taking advice from the talking heads. It is to yourself you must listen.