Friday, March 9, 2012

Spoiler Hunting

I can't fully understand people who don’t like hearing spoilers for movies and books.

Well, I understand it on principle. People like to be immersed in a story, to experience it as it unfolds, and I get that conceptually. But I have never been that way. I was often the person who would look up the ending of a book online or ask a friend because I couldn’t bear actually reading it through. I ask for a full plot synopsis before I go see a movie.

The best example is before Pirates of the Caribbean 3 came out. I was excited for the movie, because even though I wasn’t thrilled with the second one, my loyalty to the first kept me hanging on. So I spoiler hunted. I ended up seeing large portions of leaked script, all kinds of details about plot, and I knew the ending of the movie months in advance. I collected rare pictures and spent hours obsessively piecing bits of plot together. I wasn’t as good at it as some others I knew, but I certainly invested a lot of time in it (keep in mind, I was 16). One of the major reasons I did this was because I had to know the answer to one question-- did Will and Elizabeth end up together? Because if they didn’t, I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch the movie at all.

Those early tendencies to gather information obsessively have stayed with me to some extent, though my ethics now constrain me a lot more (as in, I am very unlikely to look at anything that is leaked without permission). When an album I like is about to release, I spend months eagerly soaking up every new bit of information-- every review, every new preview released on iTunes or Amazon, every snippet of lyrics, every hint a band releases on twitter, every live video of a new song that goes up on YouTube. I spoiler hunt. I have to know the ending.

I’m like that in life too. I cannot count the number of times I’ve told God “I could do this if You’d just tell me how it’s going to turn out.” I wonder if He smiles at me when I tell Him that.

I like to set down plans. I write lists. I make calendars. I budget and I talk and I think and overthink pros and cons, writing my life like a business plan. Every decision comes from a carefully calculated list of what-ifs. I agonize over the details.

I have reached a point where that selfish degree of control is slowly being wrested from my hands. It started a year ago, when all my plans for the summer were wrecked by unexpected financial turmoil, three internships falling through, and a boy. Over and over this past year, God has led me to what looks like a chasm, simply saying “trust Me.” Sometimes I’ve fought with Him, wrestling on the edge of the void, telling Him it was never meant to be this way, He must have the script wrong. But in the times I had the courage to jump, I found adventures.

I have found that there is a problem in this obsession with spoilers, with knowing the ending. Usually, we only get bits and pieces of a movie’s plot beforehand-- we find out about a beloved character’s death, or that the couple we were cheering for breaks up. These things are enough to make me not want to watch something at times. But the problem is, those are just fragments. When I get these pieces without experiencing the whole story as it unfolds, I don’t see how the character’s death pushes the other characters on to something greater, some change that grants the death beauty and peace. I don’t see that a loss clears the stage for something new and vibrant to grow. I just get facts and decide to turn the story off.

I think this may be part of why we can’t know our stories in advance. If I had known five years ago about some of the chapters I have lived, some of the people I’ve lost and the bitterness I’ve tasted, I would have told God I was done. Shut down the projector, close the book, turn out the lights-- this thing’s over. But I didn’t get the spoilers. I had to live it, one day at a time. Doing so gave me so much more chance to see how loss sometimes pushes us towards gratitude, how bitterness turns sweet, how darkness can turn to morning in a sudden dazzling plot twist that leaves me breathless.

No, I don’t need the spoilers this time. If my life is a story, then I’m going to stop trying to flip to the final pages. I believe in the irrevocable reality of an ultimate happy ending-- what else could I ask for? I will live these plot twists one breathless moment at a time. My story so far has had all the best elements-- life and death adventures, narrow escapes, long journeys, redemptive characters, love. If that is how it’s been so far, I’m going to stop wishing I could skip ahead. Instead, I will learn to hold to the promise that is eternally held by my Author, my Screenwriter... the best is yet to come.

- Elraen -


Eclectic Elegance said...

Hee-hee, I thought I was the only one who got so stressed while reading a novel that I'll flip to the ending to peek. :oops: It's good to know other people feel the same way about stories...and about life. :) *hugs*

Hannah Rebekah said...

I am so completely the opposite of this. I hate knowing the ending. I love the thrill of the adventure and not knowing who will survive and who won't. I didn't even know how my own book would end until I wrote it. I think this makes it easier to trust God, to throw it all to the wind and say, "Take it and do what you will!" Sometimes it gets be into trouble, though, like when I don't plan something all the way through. Haha...