The Spiritual Lessons of ‘Collateral Beauty’

I recently watched the film ‘Collateral Beauty’ and was moved by its deep pondering of life’s 3 main facets- Love, Time, & Death. The story follows Howard, who after losing his 6 year old daughter, suffers a mental breakdown and writes letters to Love, Time, & Death. The story then invites the audience on a journey to discover that beauty is everywhere and the emotions we feel are the vehicles to wake us up to the miraculous beauty that is with us at all times- the times of darkness, grief, and tragedy. Life is fragile, and deserves to be handled with care. There is no time, love, or death, just infinite moments of presence.

Howard is in charge of a company and 3 of his closest co-workers can’t seem to get him out of his funk. One of his co-workers played Edward Norton devises a plan to hire 3 thespians (actors) to portray Love, Time & Death. They all agree and confront Howard individually. Love tells him that she is there even in his pain. Time tells him that he is an abundant gift. Death tells him “nothing is ever really dead if you look at it.”  The story continues to unravel asking some deep metaphysical questions, but I won’t spoil it for those who have not seen it yet.

After watching the film, I couldn’t help but wonder what Love, Time & Death have to say to me? Would they be angry at me? Would they be pleased? Would they challenge me or smile at me?

When the actors approach Howard in the film, Love first confronts him at a restaurant, Time accosts him in his office, and Death sits down beside him on a park bench.

If Love sat across from me a restaurant what would she say? What would time want to tell me at my job? And is that random lady who sits beside me on a park bench feeding the pigeons really an elderly lady, or is she death herself?

I walked away from the film with a big question looming over me. What if we are all emotions or concepts personified? Maybe your mother is nurturance, maybe your father is authority, maybe your sibling is dependability? Who and what are you at this very moment? Are you Patience? Are you Grief? Are you Joy?

Regardless, if all emotions and concepts rely on each other in order to exist, than everything can be both beautiful and painful at the same time. Everything can be fast and slow at the same time. Howard comes to learn that his grief is not a prison sentence, but confirmation and proof of how much he loved his daughter. He learns you are never out of time because time is always available, and nothing ever dies because something else is always being born.

We are all one and we have the choice of whether or not we are going to view everything as separate entities or whether we are going to view everything as connected……and that is what collateral beauty is…….the legacy of now.

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