Closure and New Beginnings

Last night I watched Aloha, a 2015 film starring Rachel McAdams, Bradley Cooper, and Emma Stone.


It is a movie, among a few things, about closure and new beginnings. The character played by Bradley Cooper returns to his home state of Hawaii and meets a girlfriend of years past, the character played by McAdams. At that very scene, he is introduced also to quirky Captain Ng. Having one at each side, he decides to face and pursue the old girlfriend. That is the relational dilemma he confronts in the movie: surrender to old feelings, come back together, and destroy her current marriage, or explore the new romance.

I’ll strive not to reveal how the plot evolves, but what struck me at the end is the relationship between past and new commitments. Bradley Cooper’s character needs to find closure for his reopened past romance, if he is to engage in the new one. Or he needs to push the new girl away, (and deal with the old girlfriend’s current husband and kids), if he decides to reignite their old love. He can’t have both; when he tries, he ends up having neither.

Someone once told me that the quality of a new phase of life (say, moving to another country) is helped or hindered by how well we close the previous phase. I’ve found that to be true; we often meet people who seem stuck in youthful mindsets, bygone scars, past loves or circles of friends. On the other end are folks always in the future, who abandon things as soon as they start and are afraid of presence and commitment. Both past and future can overwhelm the present.

It is a curious theme for the end of the year. New beginnings require closure. Or, to use sturdier language, a new birth requires redemption. Where are you now? It may be in need of a new, resolved past. In need of a deeper appreciation of sustained love (which I noticed in a movie also with Rachel McAdams.) Or at the cusp of something new.

“Teach us to number of our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” prayed Moses.[1] Teach us indeed, Lord. Help us heal the past, live the present, walk toward the future. Give us a new self. Give us yourself. We thrive in You.

René Breuel

[1] Psalm 90:12.


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