It was a chilly, rainy morning and instead of watching another episode of ‘Fairly Odd Parents’ we all hopped in the van and headed up to St. Joseph. What a beautiful town! It is situated quite literally on the edge of Lake Michigan and the water is visible from every place in town. By the time we got there the sun was out. We strolled around for a awhile and went into a terrific little toy store, akin to Adventures In Toys in Birmingham, where the kids got little souvenirs of our trip.
After lunch, we saw Wall-e. It was a suprisingly quiet and good movie. It seemed a little long to me but the messages were terrific. SPOILER ALERT! I AM ABOUT TO GIVE AWAY THE HEART AND SOUL OF THE MOVIE! The basis of the movie is that humans created so much trash that they had to abandon the planet to have it cleaned up by robots of which Wall-e was the only one remaining after 700 years. He lived a quiet existence sustained by ‘treasures’ he finds among the trash and watching an old video of ‘Hello Dolly’ dreaming of having someone else to connect with. Meanwhile, the humans were all on a cruise ship of sorts in space which was supposed to be a temporary plan but turned into a permanent one when the planet couldn’t be cleaned up of all the toxic waste. Over the centuries in space, the humans have become completely isolated from one another (and their own identity) as they lived in a world of liquid meals and virtual reality screens. They never actually walked around but were transported from here to there on mobile easy chairs while they watch a virtual reality and never talked to each other. They were separated from the children and each other. Periodically, the space cruise ship sends a probe to earth to determine if it is habitable and that is when Wall-e meets Eve and falls in love. He is desperate for connection and even though they can’t speak the same language they communicate beautifully. Wall-e wants nothing more than to hold Eve’s hand, to touch and connect, to share a part of life together. The movie progresses of course and has its twists and turns but the message remains the same: that what makes us human, what makes us whole, is being connected to one another. Wall-e and Eve connect and the humans disconnect from the virtual and connect with themselves, each other, and reality.
It is easy in this world of the internet and text messaging and far-flung families to forget how important it is to touch each other physically and emotionally. It is easy to remain emotionally self-sufficient in many ways, not ‘bothering’ others with the sadness or challenge or happiness in our lives and indeed we can lead a very content life in this way. But when we connect and share ourselves with someone else, trust that person to listen and care, our lives are much more enriched.
I am reminded of how easy it is to disconnect when I feel the difference on vacation with my family. I try to connect in big and small ways each day but this prolonged closeness is wonderful. And magical. And a lot like holding hands.
Eat, love and play and each day will be your best!
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center