The film Before Sunrise is one of my favourites of recent times. It’s difficult to say its ‘that good,’ just more that it connects with me and my lifestyle over the past 10 years.
The two characters meet on a train and decide to spend their only day together. They wander round the city, talk about nothing much but are far more open than they would be, knowing they may never meet again. That openness breeds warmth and by the end of the night they want to see each other again, making frantic plans on the train platform. As they go their separate ways, they both smile at what’s occurred, knowing the risk they took was worth it.
I’ve had many of these experiences and indeed they are a fundamental of the travelling experience. By this of course I don’t mean travelling with your family or partner but an actual new experience whereby you need to stretch and look around to find what often sits directly in front of you. The list of those I’ve met and quickly appreciated is endless.
We often say our best friends are at home, those who know us best but it doesn’t take long to meet a particular person in particular circumstances and in particular mood. You hit it off immediately. The particulars are in fact just your mindset. It’s a sliding doors scenario for sure. You could have been somewhere else or looking in a different direction. The perverse, fleeting conditionality is extreme.
But these chances encounters are all we have. A small change in your perception and you are somewhere else. Those you’ve known for a long time are the product of many, small decisions often not taken by yourself. Stepping into the void instantaneously are new faces, new opportunities at interaction and belonging. The losses are immediately potentially evened out.
The smile shared by the two characters in Before Sunrise (who took their chance and lived to nostalgise about it when they returned home) reminds me of much. You can only regret the decisions you didn’t make, the opportunities you didn’t take. Yet with the endless opportunities within our limited time, it’s a course I’m glad I’ve pursued. We’ll all see the sunset. I’m just glad I’ve seen the sunrise a few times too.
PS. The sequel Before Sunset concerning their random meeting many years later is equally full of warmth and tinged with nostalgia.