When I finished watching 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button', I was 22.
Though sometimes I found it hard to believe that that was indeed my age.
There are times when I felt that time had stopped after I hit 20, and everything happened afterwards lost a clear time frame.
I was 22 and almost three months.
My life was in a blurry, muddy state.
It was summer in Newton.
I couldn’t say Boston because I barely even went there in the past month.
Newton has become my new home.
I was living on the other side of Mass Turnpike.
A neighborhood called Nonantum.
Funny enough, it’s a word that I can’t properly pronounce.
The street that I lived on was Charlesbank Road.
Bank of Charles River.
What a romantic name.
The view was indeed quite romantic.
I took a walk by the river at dusk the first day I moved in along the bike trail.
I stopped on a bridge whose name I didn’t know, and watched the shadows on Charles River and the light from afar.
It was beautiful.
It had taken me roughly six years to finish this movie.
So many years (relative to my fairly short being) had passed that I had forgotten it was directed by one of my favorite directors.
I left my comment online: Wanting in some ways, but moving in others.
I did weep more than once when I watched it.
And I did not feel like pausing or fast-forwarding as I was watching.
That, for the 16-year-old me, sufficed for a good movie.
But the 16-year-old me could never finish this movie.
Perhaps some things are indeed dependent on timing as the movie suggested.
'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' appears to be a movie about time.
But I think it’s really about life.
One may argue that the essence of life just is time and nothing else, which would falsify my distinction.
I insist, however, that life is irreducible to time.
Instead, time is a currency of life.
It’s every piece that makes up the grand whole.
It’s every rope that strings the pieces together.
Time is limited and infinite.
Limited for the mortals and infinite for the world.
Time is like the current of Charles River flowing under that bridge whose name I did not know.
I witnessed the shadows and light on the water, but rarely felt the water’s movement.
Time announces its presence with its effect.
Like Daisy’s grey hair and spectacles.
Like Benjamin’s acnes and spikey hair.
Like the clock hands that never stopped, even though they were rotating backwards.
But forward or backward, who has a say in it?
Mr. Cake crafted his own, ‘reversed’ timeline on which Benjamin lived.
Benjamin and Daisy created a life, in many senses, based on this timeline.
One can never cheat or steal time.
One may, however, create their own agendas, which would form unique shadows and lights.
That, to me, is life.
Life is what we do with time.
At the end of the day, the curious case does not seem so curious.
Just like that wrinkly infant, we each have a timeline, on which we encounter strangers, fall in love, break our hearts, and move forward.
Benjamin made it work not because he is wise and special, but because he is just like everyone else.
He does have a little advantage though.
He grew up surrounded by people who have seen it and done it all.
He lived knowing exactly what is going to happen, and made his peace with it.
He knew what he had to do.
So he did.
I guess I wept because I realized how ordinary my circumstances could be.
In an alternate narrative.
In the scope of history and outside my own timeline.
I wept because nothing seemed so nerve-wrecking anymore, and my 22 years of experience suddenly felt normal.
We create our own ripples of shadow and light.
And at the end of the dusk, the sun will set.
I hope that I, like Benjamin, will get home before the sun sets.