Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Bottleneck

As a little guy I used to always wake up at 6am on a Sunday morning and plant myself in front of the TV until it was time to go to church. Needless to say, I didn’t usually get much out of those early sessions which were filled with music videos and shows like ‘Martin Morning’, ‘Jimmy Neutron’ and ‘Blue Water High’. However, the decision to change the channel one day proved to be of great benefit to my mental health – in other words, a show came on with a plotline that was seared into my memory a whole 10 years ago, and it still remains there today. It was an animated version of a story called ‘The Bottleneck’ written by the one and only Hans Christian Andersen. I loved it so much that I used to write it out daily.

To sum it up, it’s basically a recount of a champagne bottle’s life. Some of you are probably thinking that I’m a bit weird, and you’re not wrong...but the messages within the story are very relevant to the human condition.

Isn’t it funny that we can find so much in common with a character that is well and truly fabricated? Art is so powerful in that sense. It can create a world which seems unbelievably real, and a personality that shares our exact mannerisms and even thoughts. Sometimes the meaning these art forms generate is far more than what was initially intended, but that doesn’t matter. The important thing is that a staged character’s downfall or a staged character’s decision to get up could be enough to push us over the edge and catalyse change in our own lives.

Andersen’s tale concludes in cyclical fashion, and yet the ending bears two key differences: time has passed and the characters have changed.

Life consists of a bunch of cycles, as I’ve briefly mentioned in a previous blog. We get up in the morning and we go to sleep at night. We work throughout the week and we unwind on the weekends.  My question is: how many of us are stuck in a cycle that we don’t want to be in? More importantly, how many of us are stuck in the same cycles that we were in a year or two ago? Time changes, but sometimes we don’t. I think one of the problems is that we base too much on what we cannot control.  We throw our emotions on other people. We throw our emotions on the weather bureau. When it rains outside, it often rains inside.

Ultimately, what is it going to take to break the bonds and open a new door?

We often cry out for change but we never put ourselves in the position for change to be outworked. We want a new cycle, but we sit in our old cycle and wonder why nothing’s happening.

I think it’s about persevering. Making a decision and sticking with it.

Andersen’s story begins and ends with the finding of purpose (the bottle starts as a celebratory item at a wedding and finishes as a container for a bird to drink from). Whether you read this or not...whether you know me or not, I hope you find your purpose. I have so much faith in people. I don’t believe we were born to live a mundane life filled with the same routines and the same ups and downs.

We have plenty of time to right our wrongs...and that’s why I treasure those rare moments in life where a movie or fictional story reminds us of that very fact. 

Quote Bank: "Spend all your time waiting for that second chance, for a break that would make it okay. There's always some reason to feel not good enough, and it's hard at the end of the day. I need some distraction, oh, beautiful release. Memories seep from my veins. Let me be empty, oh, and weightless, and maybe I'll find some peace tonight." - Sarah Mclachlan

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