Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sixth Sense

Tonight was another Monday night at my sister's house. As I mentioned in the last paragraph of this blog post, it has become a tradition to gather with family and a few friends at her house once a week. We began doing this as a way to watch 24 together when it was on, and we have continued to do so ever since then. Sometimes we swim (not in January though!), sometimes we watch a TV show we all like, sometimes we play guitars and sing. Tonight, we decided to watch a movie. An oldie but a goodie...Sixth Sense.

SPOILER ALERT: If you have never seen Sixth Sense (it's been out since 1999), please do not read any farther. Major spoilers ahead.

For those of you still reading, you know what a great movie this is. I had not watched it in years, so I had almost forgotten how powerful it was. (One of our group had never seen it, so it was fun seeing his reaction.) You know, I bet most of you are like me; when you think of this movie, you think of the twist at the end. The moment when we realize that Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) has been dead all along. (If you haven't seen it....I warned you!)

But this was fantastic storytelling all the way through. This movie starts with a seed of a premise and masterfully builds the suspense as we see Dr. Crowe trying to help young Cole (Haley Joel Osment) process the fact that he sees ghosts. And then, just before the twist for which the movie is so famous, we see a magnificent thing happen.

Dr. Crowe, who (we learn shortly thereafter) lost his life because he was unable to help a child with similar problems, is able to help Cole process the reason for his "gift". It is so he can help these dead people let go of their burdens and move on. (Which reminds me...I miss LOST!) The best part of the story, to me, is the fact that is exactly what Cole is doing for Dr. Crowe, and he has no idea. The doctor has to let go of the fact that he was able to help the boy who killed him, and by helping Cole, he can do so.  So he thinks he is just helping his young patient, but in reality Cole is helping him. Gave me chill bumps.

Now, this is fiction. Of course I don't believe dead people walk around trying to unload burdens so they can move on to some unknown afterlife.

But what a riveting story. And what a great lesson for me. Because, you see, life is not meant to be lived for ourselves. We are to give ourselves away, loving others as we love ourselves. When we spend our days looking out for number one, we will always find ourselves unfulfilled. But when we pour ourselves into helping others, we reap the rewards of an abundant life as God meant for it to be.

So, the thing I took away from our movie was this: ironically, selflessness is in our own self-interest. Or, as Jesus put it,
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39)
Not easy, but it's the way to live.  Time to get on with it.

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