The Soloist

The Badlands


Last evening, I stayed up late to watch a movie called The Soloist.  I’m not one to stay up late for too many things but this movie caught my attention even though I didn’t start watching it from the beginning.

The movie is about a journalist, Steve, who is looking for something newsworthy to write about.  He goes out into the streets of Los Angeles and finds a homeless man, Nathaniel Ayers, who has extraordinary music abilities playing the cello.

He writes about Nathaniel and does everything he can to help him.  But Nathaniel has a mental illness.  In one scene, Steve had set up an appointment for Nathaniel to meet with the philharmonic orchestra and Nathaniel could not leave his “things” behind.  “Things” such as a broom, an old pillow, cardboard that he slept on — important to Nathaniel although Steve was trying to move him in a “better” direction.

At one point in the story, Nathaniel beats Steve up because he believes that Steve is trying to have him committed (Steve does try to get Nathaniel psychiatric help but it has to be voluntary).

The movie ends with Steve making this statement:

“A year ago, I met a man who was down on his luck and thought I might be able to help him.  I don’t know that I have.  Yes, my friend Mr Ayers now sleeps inside.  He has a key.  He has a bed.  But his mental state, and his well-being, are as precarious now as they were the day we met.  There are people who tell me I’ve helped him.  Mental health experts say that the simple act of being someone’s friend can change his brain chemistry, improve his functioning in the world.  I can’t speak for Mr. Ayers in that regard.  Maybe our friendship has helped him.  But maybe not.  I can, however, speak for myself.  I can tell you that by witnessing Mr. Ayers courage, his humility, his faith in the power of his art, I’ve learned the dignity of being loyal to something you believe in.  Of holding onto it, above all else.  Of believing, without question, that it will carry you home.”

The movie was based on a real person.

It was only this morning that I realized why the movie stirred my heart.

I too have tried on many occasions to “help” only to find myself beaten in the end.  And I have believed, as the statement above quotes, “that the simple act of being someone’s friend can change his brain chemistry.”

Sometimes I just have to be and let life play itself out.  The results may not be what I want or expect but I still have to be “loyal to something you believe in.”

That’s the message God taught me from this movie.

1 Corinthians 13:7  Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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