Titanic

33 Days of Truth: Day 17

Titanic

Before I launch into today’s topic (How much I <3 Titanic!!!!!), I want to share some more thoughts on yesterday’s post on why I eat a plant-based vegan diet. That thing was a beast! (Lol puns.) 

Writing it kept me up until after 1am. I had already published it, but I went back through to reedit, re-clarify, and rearrange my thoughts on the subject. Multiple times. It just kept growing and expanding, in spite of myself. 

My mom teased me about perfectionism, which I have a priors in, however that is not what this one was about. 

Rather, I found myself really caring about what I was saying and how I was saying it, not for the polish but for the proper articulation. It is a big topic to cover; it’s something I feel passionately about, and I rarely share that passion. Writing about it opened the floodgates. 

Because it can be a sensitive subject for others, I tried to be mindful of those readers who think differently from me, while also being honest in my own expression. It felt a little tricky to navigate. I’m not sure I quite nailed it. But, it’s a start. 

I stated in the post that personal morals regarding animal welfare has been my primary driver for eating a vegetarian diet for 11 years and a vegan one for the last 1.5. That’s true. Yet, that’s something that has been shifting a bit for me over the last year. 

My post notwithstanding, the ethical issue around eating animals is actually kind of becoming less of an interesting a topic to me, simply because it is such a subjective thing that not everybody can relate to. I care deeply about animals, and I integrate that compassion into my patterns of behavior. It’s a no-brainer for me. It’s all heart. But, that factor of morality can be a source of contention for those who do eat animals and want to keep doing so, and they don’t want their character brought into question for it, either. 

I find it much more compelling, and constructive, to instead open up conversation in public discourse around the environmental impact of an animal-based diet. It is an angle that can unify everyone. It effects us all. 

Inadvertently, this brings me around to today’s post, on the subject of Titanic. I have personal anecdotes to share about my (former/residual) obsession with the movie and the historical event, which I’ll get to in a moment. 

As it happens, the movie’s director, James Cameron, eats a plant-based vegan diet. His reason is environmental. He is incredibly passionate about ocean conservation and sustainable agriculture.  

Cameron’s blockbuster, Avatar, is about the protection of nature, and our deep connection to it. The two sequels, yet to be released, were filmed on ground-breakingly innovative, solar-power sets designed to minimize environmental impact. Catering for the crew was all plant-based. Cameron and co. are walking the walk. I admire that values-driven work tremendously. 

On to today’s topic. Titanic. 

Nerd alert: I just put on the soundtrack for added inspiration in writing this, and effect for me is instantaneous. I feel it with my whole being. A love that will never die… 

The movie itself had a deep, resounding and highly intense emotional impact on me when I first saw it. Which was not in a theater, but well after the release onto VHS (yeah, those). 

At the time, I lived in the boonies of Washington state. My family had a cabin in the woods and didn’t have TV. Nor did we have electricity, plumbing, or running water. We were basically unplugged from the goings-on of the modern world for several years. So I completely missed pop culture explosions in the late 90s like Titanic and Harry Potter. (Hard to believe, right? We were under a pretty big rock.) 

Fortunately, I discovered them on my own, in private without outside influence; which somehow made them feel more pure and more my own. 

I saw Titanic just after my mom left on a weeklong trip. It was the first time I had been apart from her and not staying with other family. I imagine that the separation set a particularly vulnerable stage for me in the experience of watching Titanic. It certainly didn’t help. 

My siblings and I were taken care of by friends. On the first night, someone put on Titanic for us to watch. I watched, stunned, captivated, devastated. It absolutely gutted me. It gripped my heart and soul, mind and body. For the succeeding week, I felt sick to my stomach every time I thought about it, which was pretty much every second. I was a wreck of fevered obsession. 

Of course many other people had a similar reaction to the film. The story, the tragedy, that powerfully visceral experience of witnessing it all unfold; it was unlike anything that had ever been seen. Except, obviously, by those who were actually aboard the real ship. The movie brought the historical event of Titanic to life, in a way no document or recounting ever could. 

I loved everything about Titanic. The history, the romance, the script, characters, the set design, the soundtrack by James Horner, the beautiful costumes – Oh the costumes! My senior prom outfit was inspired by them. Titanic became the entry point of a passion for the era and everything vintage, which style-wise would end up being a major catalyst in helping me to overcome shyness and step into my own as a young adult. 

Titanic is my favorite movie of all time, something that I felt a little embarrassed to admit when I was a student in film school. Movie buffs are supposed to be into the likes of Godard and David Lynch, not one of the top grossing movies of all time. But whatever. I embraced it anyway. 

My love of Titanic cannot be talked about without at least a mention of my other teenage obsession, Leonardo DiCaprio. That celebrity crush was close to eclipsing the enormity of my Titanic passions. I eventually got over it and moved on with my life, sigh… But Leo will forever have a place in m heart. Interestingly, he is also a strong environmental advocate and climate change activist (and vegan), along with director Cameron.

Why am I even sharing about all this?

It was an integral to my life for many years, and informed my interests and development into my twenties. As such a meaningful part of my past, I think it deserves a little moment in this personal growth series, 33 Days of Truth.

It also happens that today is the anniversary of the sinking. April 14, 1912. When possible, I like re-watch Titanic on this day of the year. Partly in honor of the event but mostly as an excuse to see the film again for the millionth time. 

Random fact: I can quote the first half of the movie almost verbatim. I tried it during a road trip with my sister a couple summers ago, to keep us entertained. She followed along with the script online and I was on point. (I don’t have the second half of the movie memorized; it has less dialogue, for one, and also I haven’t seen it quite as many times. I prefer the ship above water. It’s less stressful.)

The only time I got to see Titanic on the big screen was when I attended a prescreening of Titanic: 3D on my college campus back in 2012. It coincided with the exact timing of Cameron’s historical, record setting descent into the depths of the Pacific and the deepest-known point on planet earth, 7 miles down into the Mariana Trench (about which he made a film with National Geographic). 

On that note, and to bring the post full circle, I’ll drop a reflection on the environmental issues facing us today.

Titanic officials received many warnings from other ships about the threat of icebergs, which was basically ignored and we all know what happened as a result. Here we are now, today, receiving warnings about global climate change. Will we be able to swerve in time to avoid total disaster? (We certainly won’t hit any icebergs in the process; they’re all melting!)

As one final note, I did want to mention the metaphor of icebergs, because I feel as though the things I’m addressing in my Truth challenge are like icebergs. I’m attempting to hit the tip of them (by posting every day) and simultaneously show the tremendous volume that lies under the surface, too (saying as much as I can get out, while posting every day).

I’m enjoying the challenge of it. I’m also enjoying the way the topic threads have been weaving themselves together; how the ideas play off each other and carry forward from one post to the next. 

As if everything were connected. 

Isn’t it, though?

Let that sink in. 😉

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