I was just watching Wim Wender’s film “Wings of Desire”, a masterful reflection on the poetry of everyday life, angels, innocence and play. In it, an angel played by Bruno Gantz looks longingly on the physical world; he is an observer hovering in infinitude, only observable to other angels and children. He eventually relinquishes his wings to be in the world, to touch one of his prime objects of affection, a French circus acrobat, and to feel the monument of a human moment: each more important than the next in the context of our mortality. In infinity, nothing begins or ends, but in the finite human life, each moment is spent currency. So these moments’ real value is best achieved when death is bearing down on us.
The movie demands so much from me as viewer—to be attentive to the melancholy cacophony as we hear the internal dialogue of every passerby in the any given shot, the poeticism of the angels, drifting and serving anonymously the suffering masses, and the clarity and bravery of a child’s eye that seldom veers from the moment, but delights and becomes uncomplicatedly dissatisfied (a child doesn’t need to feign not being bored, tired or lonely, but is more prone to emote it). It begs of the viewer, why is this you, this wasting old man, regretting easily mended wounds not made, dares not taken, games not played? Why is this not you, laughing easily, playing hardily, absorbed by the sounds of traffic, the touch of a fellow human being, the grace of serving another? Why, Winders, seems to say to us, those of us so fortunate to have life, waste it so callously? And might, with proper focus, with the right words, be a way to give due credit to our short, but rich lives?