Wrestling Love and Being Known

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Can we fully know and fully love?

In a world where to run for office or interview for a job or find a mate seems to mean “putting our best foot forward,” (which is really just a sugarcoated way of telling us to hide our faults and brokenness, right?) it can seem that to be fully known excludes us from ever being fully loved.

In the new Bruce Springsteen song, The Wrestler, a track Mickey Rourke talked The Boss into writing for the movie of the same name, Springsteen sings,

“Have you ever seen a scarecrow filled with nothing but dust and wheat?

If you’ve ever seen that scarecrow then you’ve seen me[...]

These things that have comforted me, I drive away.”

In the simplicity and the beauty of a classic sounding Springsteen folk ballad The Boss captures the complexity and contradictions of humanity’s desires to be fully known and fully loved… but with the last line quoted above seems to be asserting that when we are fully known that we drive away love.  And in some ways, when we’re honest with ourselves and with our own shortcomings and brokenness, its hard to argue with that.

In the movie, The Wrestler, a solid script is turned beautiful and heartbreaking and profound by director Darren Aronofsky and leading man Mickey Rourke.  Rourke’s character is a broken-down old pro wrestler who is loved by scores of people… except those who know him (his daughter and his love interest, Marisa Tomei).  The tension of the film is found in the three major characters’ (Rourke’s Randy “The Ram” Robinson, Tomei’s Cassidy, and Evan Rachel Wood‘s Stephanie (Randy’s daughter)) desire to not just be loved or not just be known, but to be simultaneously known AND loved.  We see this in so many ways throughout the film, but maybe the simplest is Randy “The Ram” Robinson and Cassidy living their lives responding to names that are not even on their birth certificates and W-4s.

Over and over the film begs the question, can we be fully known and still fully loved?  I will add to that, can we fully know someone and still fully love them?  And maybe just: can we ever be FULLY known and/or FULLY loved on this earth?  As you would expect from a film written about by rednoW we can’t promise that this film will answer any of these questions, but the beauty and pain of the asking is something you need to go see in this film and listen to in Springsteen’s song.



Springsteen’s The Wrestler: