Re-Read, Re-Watch, Re-Listen, Re-Evaluate
The process of revisiting the things we love matters.
I recently re-watched the movie Mean Girls for probably the bazillionth time. I hadn't watched it in a while because sitting down to watch movie is pretty difficult these days, but I remember the DVD being played on a loop in my dorm room during one particular finals week during college. The strangest thing happened during this viewing. I began to sympathize with (or at think about more) the adult characters in the movie. I thought about Tina Fey's character's bank account-destroying divorce and Amy's Poehler's brilliant, woefully out-of-touch "cool mom."
Ack. When did this happen?
It made me think about my own desire to constantly "re-experience" the things I love. I've read Jane Austen's novels hundreds of times. I've watched all of the episodes of Gilmore Girls multiple times. I have listened to the audiobooks and read the Harry Potter series more times than I can count. (honestly, if I ever tried to count...it would probably be a bit embarrassing.) I used to read Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time at least twice a year when I was young. Lord of the Rings at least once a year. While this reveals a lot (probably too much) about my preferences in fiction (translation: extreme nerdiness), I also think it speaks to a basic human desire to re-experience deep meaningful moments even when this occurs through fiction.
A voracious devourer of books (and this type of reader has become a bit controversial) lives for a strange "high." When we fall in love with book, we chase this "high" for the rest of our lives. The thrill of experiencing something as beautiful as some of these works of fiction is transformative to the reader. You love a book. It changes you. You love a movie--watch it over and over, and you find yourself quoting it or relating your experiences to the characters.
But, no matter how many times you re-watch, re-read, re-listen the material doesn't change...or does it? Just a little perhaps. I still see new things every time I read the Harry Potter series. It's, of course, not because the text changes, but because I change, my perspective changes.
I realized with the "Mean Girls" moment that I still get new insights every time I re-experience things. I never understood the fury of Molly Weasley (spoiler alert) killing Bellatrix Lestrange in order to protect her daughter until I had a daughter of my own. Characters that once seemed old, don't seem old anymore. Character's whose motives were hazy to me as a teenager, make sense as an adult. New perceptions about the material I read tend to reflect changes within myself.
Scraps of wisdom emerge through these moments of self-reflection. Yes, even if these moments are precipitated by watching Mean Girls.