Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness [sic] is a 2006 American biographical film directed by Gabriele Muccino about the on and off-homeless salesman-turned-stockbroker Chris Gardner. The screenplay by Steven Conrad is based on the best-selling memoir of the same name written by Gardner with Quincy Troupe. The film was released on December 15, 2006, by Columbia Pictures. For his performance Will Smith received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and a Golden Globe nomination.

The title is intentionally misspelled, as it also appears as graffiti in a scene in the film. The misspelled phrase is actually taken from an essay written in 1776 that argued that whites and blacks were created equal. The essay, which was written by Lemuel Haynes, a biracial man living in New England during the Revolution, quoted Thomas Jefferson's well-known sentence from the United States Declaration of Independence, but spelled the last word of the sentence with a y. The sentence, as it appears in Lemuel's essay, is as follows: "We hold these truths to be self-Evident, that all men are created Equal, that they are Endowed By their Creator with Ceartain [sic] unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happyness."


It was purely a coincidence that we watched this film that weekend but it came to have a relevance well beyond anything we could have imagined when it first began playing.

There are no obvious crossovers here as such. Certainly I am not black and trying to earn a living in a white man's world in the face of poverty and recession with the responsibility of a small child in tow.

However, the twin themes of courage and determination are very important. Chris Gardener is an inspiration. When times are hard, you should just knuckle down and get on with it. Yes, you can argue that he also had some luck but, faced with an awful lot of bad times, he had a huge hand in making a large proportion of any good fortune that did come his way through his perseverance, diligence and refusal to roll over and give up. It was his dogged work ethic that put him in the right place at the right time.

I have been suffering badly from the stress of my lifestyle recently. Some would say that it is mostly self-inflicted and that if I gave up my double-life, things would ease. However, the prospect of giving up either my children or my lover is not a choice that I would care to address.

I tend to deal with problems by putting my head down and getting on with it. Continuing to get the jobs that need to be done completed, despite any external problems. Mentally, this is tough enough but now physical symptoms of that battle have become apparent and there is always the pervasive fear that my anorexia will return because emotional upset is never known to increase appetite.

Changing the circumstances around me or people's behaviour/attitudes towards me so that the causes of the stress are diminished is not possible so I have to learn to deal with it better. Not allow myself to turn it inwards but give the rage and frustration an opportunity to escape before the destructive vortex of venom inside me has the chance to build.

I also have to learn to remember that the past is the past and not allow it to ferment so that it can affect my ability to deal with the present.

For someone as highly-strung as me, this is not an easy process but I have been given some keys to begin a determined assault on the Pursuit of Happyness.

And Chris Gardener was a very welcome example to which I could aspire.

'You want something, go get it!'


southerngirl said...

Fantastic movie.....

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Thinking of you. BG x

Dazza said...

Hear, hear.


Gorilla Bananas said...

I wonder if men find it easier to live such double-lives - it didn't seem to bother Bill Clinton until he was caught. Take it easy, Mrs Cake.