Being Present During “The Sessions”

When I saw the trailer for “The Sessions”, I added it to my queue right then. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a true story about a man. He is a poet and a journalist, he’s a devout Catholic, and he has Polio. The disease disabled him to where he has no use of his muscles below his neck and he has trouble breathing without a respirator. He spends most of his time inside an iron lung. The movie is based on the essay he wrote about seeing a sex surrogate. A sex surrogate is a particular type of therapist that helps a person cope both the mental and physical obstacles that would discourage him or her from having sex. Mark wants to have sex before he dies, but has issues not only with his body but also his religion. Mark’s surrogate helps him move past his inhibitions and discover that he deserves to be happy as much as anyone else.

So there’s your synopsis. See the movie. The actual point to today’s post though is to reflect on my own behavior while I was watching this movie. When the opening credits came on and I saw the name of the actor that played the main character Mark O’Brien, I reached for my phone to see what else he had been in. I did a quick IMDB search while the rest of the names rolled by, and I put down the phone when the narrator started his introduction. Soon afterward I had the impulse to look him up again, because the actor John Hawkes was unfamiliar to me. I needed to know what else he had been. Basically I wanted to play the six degrees of Kevin Bacon in my head. But what for? That was only going to distract me from the movie that was in front of me. My desire to Google the actor as well as the name of the man the movie was about was going to make me miss the entire thing. And what is the point of a movie but to engage and distract me. Do you see the dilemma here?

So, I caught myself in mid Google and put down my phone. I reassured myself that the information I was seeking would be there waiting for me just as soon as the movie was over. That helped for the moment, but I’m sure this is something that will trouble me for as long as I have a phone with internet or am close to a computer. The thing is, this doesn’t just happen when I’m watching a movie. I have noticed many times where myself and my friends have been gathered around a table for food and fellowship and we all have our phones out. This is making me sound like an old man, I know, but I think it is important for all of us to realize when we need to be distracted and when we need to be present in the moment. You might miss something you weren’t supposed to. For instance, if I had kept looking at my phone while the movie was playing, I would have missed Helen Hunt naked! Well, actually, that’s not true. She’s naked quite a bit so even if I looked up from the internet just once, I was bound to see at least a boob.



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