What you take into your hand, you take into your heart

What you take into your hand, you take into your heart

Sometimes I wonder if we’re losing our attachment to objects.

Let’s start with what we own. Once upon a time many of the things we owned came laced with a certain amount of meaning. Our possessions were things we saved a lot of money to buy, kept for many years, and often passed on to others. The older something was, the deeper our appreciation for it grew. What began as just a tool eventually became our tool. In certain cases they even became part of our identity; the carpenter’s hammer, the artist’s brush, the tailor’s needle.

I fear that so much of what we do now is so less tactile – do you think that the average writer has a deep and profound relationship with their laptop?

Beyond just what we own, items we interact with can have great meaning, especially when it comes to objects that denote our heritage is that the treatment of these objects can say so much. If we saw a soldier wearing their dress uniform, we would know that something ceremonial is happening that day. If we see a flag folded into a triangle, we know that someone who has served their region has died.

The thing about that attachment to objects is the way profound statements can be made with them, but only if we are aware of the meaning. Take the moment late in Peter Weir’s WITNESS when Rachel played by Kelly McGillis finally physically expresses her love for Det. John Book played by Harrison Ford. Before she runs to him to lay a passionate kiss on his lips, she takes off her bonnet and sets it gently on the floor. This is a piece of her attire that holds deep meaning for her – an article of clothing we almost never see her without. So the removal of it and the placement on the floor is an elegant visual expression of her decision to leave her community.

So much so, that the scene could easily cut to black right there and we’d immediately know what’s happening and what it means for all involved.

The bonnet isn’t just a bonnet; it’s a key piece of who Rachel is.

Such association is one of the things I love about traditions, customs, symbology, and outward signs of culture. Just the fact that we own or wear them can express so many things…but only if we keep those associations and meanings intact. If we get to a point where a badge no longer commands respect, or a baby buggy no longer prompts feelings of warmth…then we may well lose these moments of elegant storytelling…

…besides losing a bit of who we once were.


Three more from WITNESS for the road…





This series of posts is inspired by the “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” series at The Film Experience. Do check out all of the awesome entires in their series so far