It's A Wonderful Life

Last night I watched one of my favourite films of all time It's A Wonderful Life by Frank Capra. Celebrating it's 70th anniversary this year, it still remains one of the most well-loved films of all time. What I adore about the film is how truly uplifting it is. Protagonist George Bailey spends his entire life giving up his big dreams of travelling the world and building skyscrapers for the good of his town, Bedford Falls, as we see played before us. In the present, on Christmas Eve, he is broken and suicidal after his uncle inadvertently gives $8,000 to Mr Potter, a corrupt man bent on taking over the town. His guardian angel, Clarence, falls to Earth and shows him how his town, family, and friends would have turned out if his wish of never being born were true.

The first very powerful message I took from this masterpiece is that life doesn't always follow the path you intended for it. Things get in your way, or steer you in a different direction. Sacrifices and decisions have to be made that often leave dreams tantalisingly out of reach, achievable only in the false reality played out in front of you as you sleep. Yet, that doesn't mean your life was, or is, any less worthwhile. It is just different. It is still there to be embraced, and you can still find joy in even the tiniest of things, the way the sunlight and shadows fall on the individual petal of a flower, the intricate pattern on the tiny wings of a honeybee, the little upturn in the corner of a loved one's eyes as you make them smile, the joy your child shows as he runs full speed at the nearest puddle (even if that does mean that you will have to put his muddy clothes through the wash later!).

The second very powerful message I always take from Capra's film is that whilst we may not always recognise this we all make an immeasurable difference to the lives of those around us. If we were not here, the world would be a very different place. Or as Clarence puts it, "Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?". Then we must not forget his wise words written in the book he gifts George at the end of the film after finally gaining his wings in heaven: "Remember, no man is a failure who has friends." If you are struggling with that concept, why not journal or ponder upon all of the ways you have changed people's lives? You could even ask them yourself, telling them too about the positive contributions they have made to your own. Now, that doesn't make you worthless if you find yourself in a situation where you are left with no loved ones nor friends around you. Far from it,

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