Attending the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) this week was a highlight to remember. After a mere hour journey by bus and train, I arrived at the bustling and newly renovated Rotterdam Centraal Station. Inside the station, I felt like I was walking in an enormous earthy spaceship; the sharply angled ceiling juts downward and into the negative space, a geometric genius to be admired. Meanwhile, warm brown woods and light tan bricks invite the traveler to feel safeguarded from the chilling rains that await, a most happily welcomed comfort. The stark whites and sleek metallic designs expected to be found in modern architecture were notably absent, forgone for the pervasive tranquil, Zen space. Well done Dutchies, well done.
Moving along, I was greeted by one of the most grounded, calm, and lovely souls you will ever meet, my dear friend Emma. Never will I tire of spending time with her refreshing self and infectious smiling giggle. We chatted and walked on the damp Dutch stones to the theatre where our movie was being shown. Upon arrival, we discovered a movie theatre packed with people of many nationalities bustling about between film showings. Although, it was surprisingly quiet. There lingered a buzz of excitement in the air. Everyone seemed to share the indescribable euphoria of knowing they were about to see something new, something fresh, something that will add to life. I think humans crave to experience new things, so they can then share those gleaned droplets of wisdom with their fellow humans and by recounting, perpetuate the beautiful cycle that we call humanity, from nascence to the ripening that creates new life again. Wonderfully contagious, it certainly riled up my innate desire to sample this uniqueness, as well.
Happy to be in such a positive environment, Emma and I made our way into the Imax theatre, scored center seats, and awaited the film’s opening scene. Before the movie even started, though, the producer—a quintessentially Spanish man, complete with thick, foggy accent and grandiose gestures—introduced the movie. The introduction in and of itself was a new experience for both Emma and I. To hear his perspective on what the movie was about and what was important in it allowed me to watch the movie in a much deeper fashion than I probably would have done without the live prologue. “El muerto y ser feliz” or “The Dead Man and Being Happy” was an expression of the big picture of life. The important things: health, family, happiness all outweigh the little details in which we so often entangle ourselves in the quest for truth. In the Q&A session afterwards, the producer argued that you could only glean one truth from the movie—that the main character was alive running towards death and his companion was alive and running towards her family—the same as in life the producer conjectured. Food for thought.
An Italian dinner, a train ride, and a bus ride later, I had arrived back home. That evening well spent was only one of the many things I have to be thankful for this week. I had coffee with my former band teacher, a genuine and thoughtful man whose picture should be in the dictionary next to “kindness.” Also, with my mom I walked in the sand dunes by the beach in our town of Wassenaar. We are incredibly lucky to have that beauty so close by.
|If you look closely through the fence wire, you can see a faint outline of The Hague skyline.|
This week, I also found out where I’ll be living in Lima and was assigned a “buddy” to welcome me to the university. Everyone seems exceptionally hospitable and kind. Now my imminent journey feels more real, and I cannot wait to get there. But in these intermittent three weeks, I will focus on the truth that I am alive and blessed. That’s all I need.