This morning I had a conversation with the man in my life about the benefits of re-watching movies, and I of course added in re-reading books. Alas, my guy is not a book reader, he’s more of a non-fiction kind of fella, but he totally got my comparison when I said that watching a favorite movie or re-reading a favorite book was like visiting with an old friend.
There is something innately comforting about being wrapped in the arms of the familiar. Watching your favorite movie and looking forward to seeing those parts that tug at your insides makes you feel all warm and squishy.
It doesn’t have to be some mushy movie either. When I think of the most comforting movies I could possibly watch, the ones I go to when I’m in the throes of depression, or sick as a dog, the ones that are my total comfort, I reach for John Wayne. John Wayne movies are my total comfort zone. They remind me of afternoons spent with my dad. We would sit together in the living room, each of us with a heavy crystal beer stein brimming with ice water, and watch The Duke. So when I watch those movies now (and it doesn’t even really have to be one of my favorites, any John Wayne movie will do), I’m enfolded by this warm gooey sensation, like being hugged by an old friend. I’m immediately transported back to the living room with my dad.
The same is true when I read a favorite book. I love being able to skim through the pages, moving through to my favorite parts and letting myself get sucked into that world. There’s comfort in those familiar words, security in knowing exactly what will happen and when, just as there is in those movies. Sometimes I don’t even need to re-read the book. Just carrying it around, able to know that at any moment I can flip through those pages and enter my safe zone, is enough. I know that sounds a little creepy (I’m have a connection to that movie Conspiracy Theory but don’t worry I’m definitely not Mel Gibson and I’ve always disliked The Catcher in the Rye) but don’t judge me!
The other (less creepy) part of re-reading or re-watching movies is that you get new things from them each time you read them. That is especially true when you read them or watch them at different times in your life. That’s probably why re-watching or re-reading the familiar is so comforting. It transports you back to those times in your past that you first encountered them, reconnecting you with those emotions.
The cool thing is that with more life experience, suddenly the connections you make are different and re-watching or re-reading the story gives you something completely new. It speaks to you in a new way and suddenly your appreciation becomes something more. It’s like that parent or grandparent sitting next to you. The scent, the scene, the tone are familiar but suddenly the message has changed. The story, like that parent or grandparent, is looking at what has happened in your life and they are giving you new advice. It’s telling you the familiar tale but you can connect to it differently now than you had in the past.
So go be hugged by the familiar. Read those books again; watch those movies, and don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t!