It's surreal to have first seen the movie (...7 times!) when I was 17 years old. I was a high school senior who had never really had a boyfriend before, who was convinced that this fact made her less than everyone else around her, and had not yet discovered the magic of her own ambitions, gifts, and heart. Watching Nicole Kidman onscreen, I told myself that beauty only came in the form of long, sleek straight hair, a beautiful singing voice, and heels. It was difficult to recognize myself in any of the outer beauty I saw onscreen. At times as a teenager, I glimpsed that I might have something deep down in myself that might qualify as beautiful, but it felt faded and far away.
Fast forward. Last night, I watched this feast for the senses as a 35 year old woman sitting next to her out-of-this-world partner of 15 years. I watched it as someone who still is working on digging deeper into who she is, and at the same time, realized how much she's allowed herself to get comfortable in her own skin. I watched it as someone who now has 17 years of performing onstage imprinted on my self, something that never fails to illuminate the beauty in me---the kind of beauty that can never fade with time or being improved by Botox. Watching the incredible actress who played Satine perform onstage, I still admired her beautiful long, sleek, straight hair, but didn't find myself longing to look like her at all. In fact, I walked out into the summer night when the show was over feeling so grateful for my own curls and my own stories and my own schemes to create as much as I can in this world, that I know now that I most definitely belong in.
In Moulin Rouge, the Children of the Revolution stand for freedom, beauty, truth, and love. What if the real revolutionary act is to see and honor these things that exist in YOU, right now? What if we dared to do that? Believe me, I get it--if you have also come from a family culture where acknowledging others' beauty is encouraged, but acknowledging your own beauty is not considered "polite" or "humble", this takes a boatload of time to wrestle with. In fact, typing out this whole post makes me feel like I just broke from the rules I was raised with and the feelings that come with that are uncomfortable, to say the least. Still, any progress worth seeking out requires that we rebel a bit, no?
Epilogue: Going to this show was a good reminder that in a world that can't stop talking and arguing and telling everyone else that they are WRONG, it's a welcome change to sit in a theatre with 1700 other people as they all hold their voices and their breath to witness a human being onstage in front of them sing Elton John's Our Song or watch a stage full of dancers move to Bad Romance. The stillness struck me through to my soul and at during other moments, the audience's cheering and shouting and dancing along rocked my soul. I couldn't help but look around at the audience throughout the show, just taking in the makeshift community we made in the Colonial that night. Maybe that's what life should be--the courage to connect and be generous with how we respond to who and what are in front of us, and also getting good at sitting still and listening to what's happening right now.