If you are a regular reader, you know that I think that Ryan Gosling is about one of the coolest people ever. I made this decision a long time ago when I was forced to watch The Notebook by a gaggle of girls. I say “forced” because I would never first watch a Nicholas Sparks movie of my own accord. But friends, neighbors, and countrymen, let me tell you that it takes very little to convince me to watch The Notebook these days.
The Notebook has one of my favorite scenes from any movie ever in it. When it’s on television, I usually flip back and forth with something more manly like Teen Mom until the scene happens. But once it does, I’m hooked. I have to watch the whole thing. The scene happens when poor-handsome-charming Noah (Gosling) and rich-beautiful-witty Allie (Rachel McAdams) are caught together late at night. Allie’s wealthy stuck-up father sends the whole town searching for his missing daughter and when she is found with Noah, she is forbidden from ever seeing him again.
Noah reaches Allie’s house just as the forbidding is happening. I haven’t seen the movie in a while (shame, I know) so I’m a little hazy on specifics here, but somehow, Noah and Allie get into a fight over the whole thing. Allie starts hitting Noah. And then Noah does the coolest thing ever, he starts hitting himself. It’s awesome.
This scene is relatively similar to one of my favorite scenes in all of literature. It happens in The Kite Runner. Amir (main character) and his servant/best-friend, Hassan, get into a fight one day by a pomegranate tree. Amir starts smearing pomegranates on Hassan. Hassan begins to pick up pomegranates himself and do the same. It’s a deeply moving moment, mostly because by this point it is relatively clear that Amir is doing horribly by Hassan. He is in the position of power in the relationship, and he regularly misuses it. And so Hassan’s submission is striking and hard to imagine.
I love these scenes because they are sacrificial. They show love that is so full, that the lover loses his sense of ego. It’s beautiful. There’s that song “Love is a battlefield.” It’s not. Real love doesn’t have winners and losers. In fact, people who think that end up being like Amir. They abuse and take advantage of the people they care about. Real love is about people working together.
[Sidenote: Sacrificial love is a tricky thing. There are a lot of people suffering out there because they are being abused by loved ones. That’s not right. Sacrificial love can only be sacrificial if it is a real, free, and true choice. If someone is demanding you to be submissive, that person does not deserve your sacrifice.]