Opinionista Haji Mohamed Dawjee 20 June 2021

Life is too serious to be taken seriously – let’s go back to the way we were

Life is actually quite simple, in that if you forget to have fun in the present, your future becomes complicated and rather hopeless.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a Brown Woman in a White South Africa. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @sage_of_absurd

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

The other day we watched The Way We Were, that old classic starring Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand. My wife is generally not a fan of old movies but her pop-culture historical archive is severely lacking so when she is indebted to me or owes me a favour I take advantage and make her watch all the films the little gay man inside me desires.

Old movies are not too complicated, they’re filled with the unfiltered filter of soft and pixelated lighting and everything has that golden hue.

Perfect for falling asleep to. If you rewatch them over and over again, you can doze off with the peace and contentment of knowing exactly what happens at the end.

The music of films of yore is also great.

One can never go wrong with the styling of a Henry Mancini composition and the soothing but subdued diva timbre of Streisand, in this case, singing the theme song, The Way We Were.

If you don’t know who Mancini is, let me draw your attention to Moon River, from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, starring Audrey Hepburn. If you haven’t seen this classic I recommend you do.

Failing the recognition of that ditty, let me fill your head with the earworm that is the Pink Panther theme.

But I digress. This is about The Way We Were and the way we were.

My wife and I have a lot in common but we don’t share a love for rewatching films.

She feels life is too short to read a book you have already read or watch a film you have already watched. I feel the opposite is true. Life is too short not to revisit the things that mean something, when you can.

To enjoy the joys you’re guaranteed to enjoy. More than that, I always find some new secret in the same sentence or some new meaning in the same black-and-white or saturated frame of something I have read or seen before.

And in the case of my recent revisit to The Way We Were, it was one quote that stood out: “Life is too serious to be taken seriously.” This is a quote that resonated with me in a way it never had before.

The first few times I watched the movie, I kind of just threw it away. In the film, Redford’s character, Hubbell Gardiner, utters these words achingly to Katie Morosky (Strei-sand), with whom he has a relationship between the 1930s and 1950s.

Their relationship takes unlikely turns over the course of these decades; they move from acquaintances to lovers to friends to best friends. Respect is never lost but common ground is never found.

She is a passionate activist who hates jokes. In today’s terms, she would fall into the category of the most irritating of wokes. He is a textbook Wasp – in today’s terms, the most hated creature on Earth.

He is good-looking (not all Wasps are, but this is Redford, people), privileged and yet a man of substance, which is exactly what Morosky loves about him.

But ultimately their worlds collide when Morosky’s incessant seriousness steals the ease and fun out of life until it complicates their future to the point of separation. And it’s in this scene that I realised, life is actually quite simple, in that if you forget to have fun in the present, your future becomes complicated and rather hopeless.

In the theme song, Streisand sings: “Could it be that it was all so simple then? Or has life rewritten every line? If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me would we? Could we? Memories may be beautiful and yet, what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget. So it’s the laughter, we will remember, whenever we remember, the way we were.”

Streisand’s questions are rhetorical, but my answers, I discovered, are simple. To all questions I say yes. And, most importantly, remember the laughter and every so often, let’s go back to the way we were and keep it simple and beautiful. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.

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  • Thank you. A lighter note in the highly strung reality we live in, yet power in the mesage. Such great actors with memorable lines. Redford also played Dennis Finch Hutton in Out of Africa.. My favourite movie. Such romance… Karin Blixen, played by Meryl Streep… the unforgettable after dinner story.. “There was a wandering Chinese named Cheng Huan living in Limehouse and a girl named Shirley….”is the opening provided by Dennis.. The response by Karin is a magic story.. Superb film making with actors at their best… Would one expect less from the best of the best. There were also a few serious messages. Redford” I don’t want to come to end of someone else’s life”. Scary when a script looks as if it was written from inside one’s own head. Their first flight in his biplane, “when did u learn to fly”.. “yesterday”… They fly over a remote wild Kenya… Blixen “a view from God’s window” such beauty and splendor. This is our Africa. To be protected and cherished for generations to come.

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