Tuesday, March 10, 2015

An easy antidote to the blues


How do you relax? When the weather allows, I relax by jogging along the Hudson River, going to yoga classes or meeting friends for a glass of wine.

However, during this particularly harrowing winter trekking anywhere has seemed more stressful than reaping the benefits from participating in such calming activities.

So what did I do to fend off those winter blues? My saviors have been taking tropical trips, watching The West Wing on Netflix and tuning into the occasional old movie.

I've always had a soft spot for Turner Classic Movies. TCM shows old films that are generally heart-warming; even if the movies don't always have happy endings, the black and white tones and dialect from earlier times is nostalgic and uplifting. 

When I came across this "letter of recommendation" in The New York Times Magazine I was instantly intrigued. Author Leon Wieseltier extols the virtues of the classic movie channel in a passionate ode. See below for an excerpt:

"Some people turn to psychopharmacology when they are blue. I prefer Turner Classic Movies... I switch on TCM and find swift transit beyond the confines of my position. Alongside my reality there appears another reality — the world out there and not in here. One objective of melancholy is to block the evidence of a more variegated existence, but a film quickly removes the blockage. It sneaks past the feelings that act as walls."

Wieseltier praises TCM for providing not only an alternative reality but also beautifully made films created without computer interference. Wieseltier adores old movies because they have integrity. Back then, acting was a craft performed on a set and not before a green-screen. Movie stars actually performed stunts. It wasn't all pretend. 

Wieseltier is in favor of finding a real outlet for help in facing reality. Old movies don't remove us from our present scenarios, but they may make them more tolerable. As he says, "We watch movies because life must be faced."

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