At least that’s what my ever-emotional son says.
Last night, Dan and I finished watching The Last Station, the biographical story of famed Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s battle with his wife, his principles and his followers.
It was gorgeous and poetic, rife with themes we still are plagued with today: whether to choose family over fame, balancing a desire to do well with the more important drive to do good and which voice to listen to on the big things in life.
I never would’ve chosen this movie. Never heard of it, actually, but it’s on Dan’s NetFlix list so it arrived in the mail in its paper sheath and sat on the credenza until we said one night, boy it would be nice to see a movie and oh I happen to have one right here.
Of course, I’m better for having seen it – and definitely it expanded my mind more than any chick flick I might’ve chosen.
I realized then that for all my education and writerly pontification, I’ve never read Tolstoy. Back in the teens and 20s, I was too obsessed with boys to focus on the great books of all time. Thank God I’ve reached my 40s, where the meaning of life looms larger and more interesting than when we are younger.
Now I have the time and the patience to read Tolstoy and to grasp what drove him to start a movement. Did you know there are 11 time zones in Russia? That was Dan’s answer when I wondered aloud as to why Russia has been such a mess for so long. “It’s just too big,” he said.
That an author would inspire a movement, that people would move their lives to the fields of the Russian plains just to be near him and enact his principles. And of course, the lead character, Valentin Bulgakov, grapples with the Tolstoyan ideals and the realization that love – the love between Tolstoy and his wife Sofya, the budding love between Valentin and Mascha – can in fact prevail over intellectual ideals.
Which do you think runs the world? A desire for love or the anger of love denied? Or the very grounded principled politic that seems measured, makes sense and is without passion whatsoever?
So maybe Asher has it right: love is truly all you need. It’s funny and adorable when my 10-year-old pontificates about it: you know Mommy, it’s true – love really is all you need. But maybe we need to clear away the clutter to realize the truth rests in the most innocent among us.
It can be that simple. Life. Love. The pursuit of happiness. Maybe that’s all there is.