Maybe George Clooney is right after all


I watched Up in the Air. Up in the Air is one movie that has been popping up on my recommendations for a long time now. But I never watched it. I am going to tell you a little secret- I am scared of watching bad movies. If I am idle, you will never see me streaming a new movie. It will always be an old favorite. As a family ritual, I watch a new release every weekend with my parents and trust me when I say this, most releases in the year are horrible. Of all the movies that I watched this year, I only liked two. So when I already dedicate time to watching mostly sub par movies, I have no appetite left to risk watching another potentially bad movie during the rest of the week. That’s how I never watched Up in the Air. But two weeks ago, I decided to give it a try.

Up in the Air is based on a man who spends most of his time travelling for work. For a major part of the movie, George Clooney is in the air and if not in the air, then at some location in and outside the airport to be in the air. He has an enviable life, he is always on the move, he gets to travel on his company’s expense, he gets to exploit fancy lounges and hotels at his company’s expense, there is nothing or nobody in terms of belongings or possessions to hold him back and importantly he has a dream that is achievable, that doesn’t depend on anybody else but him. He wants to earn 1 million miles (loyalty points equivalent for an airline). Why? Because he will be the 7th man in the world to do so, he will be a part of an exclusive club, he will get to have a chat with the pilot and simply because this thrills him.

There is a talk that he is shown to give at conferences. In the talk George Clooney asks you to take a backpack and fill it with all your possessions- everything that you own. His idea is simple, that once you lift the backpack and put it across your shoulders you will realize how your possessions weigh you down. And frankly, it does make sense. There are so many things that we buy, some impulsively, some decisively but do we ever contemplate if we need these or not; and they do hinder our mobility. Do not agree with me? Every time you step out, do you not worry, if you have locked the house properly or not? Do you not fear that someone might break in and wipe you off of your assets? Do you not get annoyed with how things keep breaking apart and you have to constantly keep investing in them?

His talk doesn’t end there. He next asks you to take a backpack and fill it with your relationships. He wants you to feel how the weight makes the straps cut across your skin. He wants you to evaluate how this baggage will stop you from going places, from doing what you want to do, from achieving your goals. And strange as it may seem, this did make sense to me. I am not George Clooney’s character in real life, I am far away from that. I value relationships, sometimes above my own desires. So when George Clooney gave the talk, I could feel the straps cutting across my skin. I could see all my abandoned decisions play right before my eyes.

Maybe it’s not about Up in the Air and the talk solely. It’s about this past year and the frequent realization that people do what they want to do. They will do what suits their whim and sometimes it has a negative bearing on your life. However people never extend the same liberty to you. They use their words and their emotions to hold you back. The funny thing is that you let them hold you back, you let them change your decisions, you let them dictate your choices. Why? Because you want to see them happy; because you know that they will not understand/agree with your choices; because you fear that you are going to hurt them through your decisions. The funnier thing is that people never see how you alter your life’s course for them, they never value it and they do not even acknowledge it. So when George Clooney said what he said, it rang a bell. I wanted to see how life looks like at Clooney’s side of the world. I wanted to taste that sense of freedom that lets you go where you want to go without a second thought.

Of course, Clooney is not a happy man either. But that is the beauty of ‘Up in the Air’, it’s an excellent commentary on our world, relationships and solitude- it’s that message that happiness and sadness come in cycles and in fact nobody is constantly happy. If you watch closely, you will see how Clooney gets hurt only when he acts on someone else’s advice and alters his decisions. Pain comes to him when he changes his plans, when he does something for a person and comes to have expectations. He was happy untethered and maybe you and I will be too. The more I think about the movie, the more I come to believe that it’s simpler to have fewer things to my name and to have fewer relationships in my life. It seems simpler to not have to think about how many people get affected with my choices. It seems simpler to be to able to fly for once.

If you have watched Up in the Air, tell me what did you think of the movie. If you haven’t watched it yet, please do, it will certainly make you reconsider a lot of your choices and judgments.

Also, I had decided to participate in Nano Poblano this year but since my November had different plans for me, I was unable to write anything for the past ten days. However since it took me 4 years to participate, I don’t want to lose on this entirely. So I have decided that I will write for the rest of this moth and do a partial Nano Poblano.


2 thoughts on “Maybe George Clooney is right after all

  1. Sibelius Russell says:

    I remember this movie. It’s kind of amazing.

    I found the subject of corporate “downsizers” to be really depressing, because of what happens to people who get laid off through no fault of their own, which I’ve seen up close in real life.

    I remember it being a very unusual film, because, it effected me strongly, but, in entirely different ways depending on what part of the story line they were dealing with.

    • Palak says:

      I get what you are saying. I remember telling a friend after watching this that what makes this movie brilliant is the many themes built in the plot and everyone is going to have a diverse takeaway from this.

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