a hundred year message from Mars

Last night I watched a movie, A message from Mars.  This movie, made in 1913 is the first full-length science fiction feature in the history of British cinema. It stars the leading comic actor of his day, Charles Hawtrey, as a selfish man who is taught a series of valuable lessons by a visiting Martian.  Painstakingly reconstructed from existing clips of films by British Film Institute (BFI) and BBC; and with a new soundtrack, it was a peculiarly haunting experience.  Apart from the beautiful dresses of the women and the very clean streets, not much it seems, has changed.  The eternal themes are still around- of being kind to those who are in need (Amelie or Pollyanna), the need for the man to change to win the hand of his love (Grease), the shock of having the same experiences again and again until one changes (Ground Hog day) or even strange alien visitations (Donnie Darko or ET).

Watch this incredible movie that brings the past, present and future alive-

A message from Mars


Hardships and creativity


(photo credit: Chater Paul Jordan photography)

I learnt this from an old wizened woodworker in Devon.  He told me that when logs or trees are cut, he looks closely at the spacing of the annual rings.  When there has been a severe winter, the rings happen close together.  That side of the tree is the strongest and where the carpenter needs strength in the structure, that side is used to bear the weight or tension.  I watched a programme about starlings on the BBC and learnt that the wild starlings who needed all their skills to find food were more clever than urban starlings who found food and life more easy.  I also learnt that for humans, it takes more brain connections to work out our similarities with someone than our differences with that person, therefore we get ‘brainier’ when we work these out.

What are these examples from the plant, animal and human worlds telling us?  That hardships and difficulties make us grow- more creative, more brainy and more intuitive. Yet what do we do all the time?  We try to shirk from our responsibilities and from hardships, trying to live a life of comfort all the time.  Yet a life with no difficulties is not only impossible but also a life without creativity and intelligence. Nichiren says, “A fire burns higher when logs are added” and difficulties make us grow too.