This past week I have been thoroughly enjoying and indulging in the Netflix show Anne With An E, based on the beautiful Anne of Green Gables novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It was just as much of a surprise to me that I chose to watch it, let alone become totally caught up in the story and crave to watch it every single day until I finished the series (and what an ending that was!).
A few years ago when the show first aired, it seemed like something I would love. I really enjoy books, movies and tv shows set in any time before the mid twentieth century, seeing books turned into screenplays, and especially period dramas. Anne With An E had my name written all over it – a period drama, coming of age story, set in the nineteenth century isolated country town with beautiful casting, costumes, scenery, cinematography and soundtrack. It had everything I would love…
… and yet it was the last thing that I wanted to watch. Something about it was irritating and repellent to me then and I had no idea why.
Fast forward a few years, the series is a firm favourite and I can see myself rewatching it again and again. It can be completely comforting to be distracted by something so pure and beautiful for a time. To have your mind transported away from your own concerns and struggles and daydream about another place in the world and someone else’s story.
At the moment and on top of my health management, my life is full of planning and paperwork, and considering what life might look like from now on. When I take time out it is usually to dive into a book or a story, and it was quite unusual for me to dive into a tv show instead. It has been consoling to see a character in a completely different environment consider the same life changes and progress through the difficulties in a coming of age story. Even though I am already ‘of age’, these stories are not just for young adults, but anyone embarking on change in their life. We gather strength, hope and courage from the youth who are daring to go out into the world to develop who they are, flourish and create a life by their own design. As Anne is constantly declaring in both the book and in the show, ‘There is so much scope for the imagination’!
It wasn’t until I was halfway through writing this post that I realised why I couldn’t watch the show years ago. In the depths of depression, I had lost my imagination and my sense of self. How does someone who doesn’t feel their own intuition and hear their inner voice choose what they want in their life? How does someone without imagination create a vision for the life that they want? How painful is it to feel that way to then watch a show that depicts the exact journey that you so desperately need yourself? And to add further insult to injury, to have the full collection of all the things you love rolled into one show, and feel no joy or interest towards it?
There is something to be said for timing – even the things that we seek comfort from can come to us at the right time. Usually we only see that something happens at the perfect time if it involves an obvious change or lesson but everything can be a mirror for us.
For me to have watched the show a few years ago would have been more traumatic than inspiring. It would have ruined the joy for it that I now feel for it, that I have watched it at the right time. Back then I felt more safe watching Game of Thrones or The Handmaid’s Tale because it wasn’t like I was personally going to win a war or ride a dragon. Comfort can come from being deeply personal or completely detached with the entertainment that you are engaged in. You can still feel invested in the story without feeling that there is a parallel occurring with your own life journey.
Time, timing and healing can not be underestimated in consideration to how a story may be received. Our own experiences will always influence how we feel about something, and our current circumstances will direct it even more so. We may reject a story entirely because it hits too close to the truth of what we want and we become jealous or enraged, or it could be inspiring and the wind beneath our wings to let us lift off into anew.
Whatever you need to seek comfort from at the moment is ok. If something doesn’t feel right at this time, pause and wait. A time will come when you are able to indulge in the sweet joys of the things you once loved again. That is what I know to be true.
Take heart, Readers. I’ll keep the light on.