"Sometimes . . . I think about someone else's life. I imagine all the love they do not have. I see the passion that is missing, the friends they don't know and the awful pressures that crush them. In those moments I realize how much I have. And how much I have to give."
Those lines are from character Amy Jellicoe in HBO's Enlightened. She's a former rager. She lost her corporate position after sleeping with a married co-worker whom ended up stabbing her in the back. After having a very bad public meltdown, she ends up in a mental rehab camp where she finds spiritual awakening. But going back to her new life isn't easy. She wants to incorporate all the wisdom she's learned; she wants to show the world she's not the same crazy bitch she once was. No one believes in the change, and she ends up working in the company's basement with a bunch of losers typing in data. It's a meaningless job, especially for a person who's dying to heal the world.
In episode three Amy, played by Laura Dern, decides to get a job at a homeless shelter to bring meaning back into her life. But when she finds out the pay is only $500 a week, she breaks down and tells the older gentleman who is ready to hire her that she can't do it. She has bills from the rehab camp, she's living with her mother, her life is a mess and the money is too low, but she wants to do this beautiful job. She wants to, but she just can't. And he, putting his arms around her says, "It's okay. You do what you can."
Amy goes into the shelter's bathroom to wash up, and she looks at the homeless lady who is washing up next to her. Amy realizes she is homeless just like the lady. She wanted to help them, but she is them.
I'm so blown over by Enlightened. It's a beautiful show, and Laura Dern is absolutely amazing in it. I do see a lot of myself in the character, even down to the way Laura and I look. But really, I like it because it's brilliantly written by Mike White, who also plays in the show as a humble and shy data geek. If you have cable then I suggest you give it a chance.
The world is crazy right now. We need a little reflection, a little bit of sanity. Enlightened takes our world and all its screwed up crappiness and it makes it digestible. If Amy is this screwed up, and she can somehow find a way to deal, then so can we. We don't have to hate, or get high, or give up, or sink like the Titanic. We can keep trying. We can keep treading.