I was watching The Notebook for the first time in a decade. Yes, I am a romantic. And Yes, I know that some people claim this movie can be problematic due to potentially toxic relationship patterns between Allie and Noah. I won’t be addressing that. I will, however, address one scene that struck me as interesting and as a reminder to believe in the possibilities when it comes to health and life. And to choose with great consideration any health professional you may pay for their services or any human you might invite into your life.
Just in case you don’t know THE NOTEBOOK, it’s a romantic drama from 2004 based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. Let’s see. Poor boy meets a rich girl. Boy and girl fall in love. It’s a hot summer romance. Her parents disapprove. The two of them break up. She moves away at summer’s end. And, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it’s a romance, so you can guess what happens next. Or has everyone seen this movie?
Actually, it turns out I’m going to spoil it here. Later, Noah and Allie reconnect, marry, have kids, and live happily ever after. Later in life, she develops dementia and is moved into an assisted living home where Noah, being the absolute romantic that he is, moves in, too, so he can be closer to his love. Swoon, right?
And in case you don’t remember, the movie is told through older Noah’s narration as he reads the story of their love that Allie wrote in a book prior to the onset of her dis-ease. Noah reads their love story to Allie as a way to hopefully spark her memory as she often forgets who he is as well as their children and history together. He reads to remind her.
One scene struck me as particularly interesting. Noah is in the assisted care living doctor’s office for a routine check-up, where the following conversation occurs. And, because this doctor works at the home, we assume he knows Allie and cares for her as well.)
Doctor: So, I understand that you read (your love story) to Miss Hamilton (Allie).
Noah: Yeah, to help her remember.
Noah: You don’t think it’ll help.
Doctor: No, I don’t.
Noah: She remembers, Doc. I read to her, and she remembers. Not always, but she remembers.
Doctor: Senile Dementia is irreversible. It’s degenerative. After a certain point, its victims don’t come back.
Noah: That’s what they keep telling me.
Doctor: Well, I just don’t want you to get your hopes up.
Noah: Well, thanks, Doc, but you know what they say: science goes only so far, and then comes God.
Doctor: (whispers/reflectively) Then comes God.
While in the doctor’s office, they can hear Allie playing the piano in the next room. As we know, Allie has played piano her entire life, and they can hear her playing a song that appears to be familiar to them. Then, Noah says, in the presence of the doctor:
Noah: Damn. I forgot to turn the page for her.
*(side curiosity)Does she not know how to turn the music page? Does she not remember? Does she continue playing one page of music on repeat until someone turns the page? It sounds like that is the case.
Noah: (ready to leave the doctor’s office) You through with me?
*Allie continues playing through the song, well beyond one page of music. Both the doctor and Noah can hear this.
Doctor: Well, I guess they flipped that page
Noah: No, that she’s playing by memory.
This whole scene struck me as interesting because many revelations in my life have occurred in doctors’ offices and in moments somewhat similar to this scene. I’ve asked questions that couldn’t be answered by the “professional,” or I had creative ideas for my health that were laughed at or told were impossible solutions, unheard of, unlikely, or just plain wrong.
The discouragement from this doctor in The Notebook is recognizable. Many of us have encountered a brick wall that is a doctor’s certainty that whatever out-of-the-box idea you have for your life or your health is ridiculous and will not work.
This is interesting because we have been taught to listen to a doctor as if they are a God who knows all the ins and outs of medicine, bodies and avenues for healing. As if one human could know all the possibilities for all the humans in all the world throughout time. How could research even begin to cover all of these possibilities with all the nuances?
Okay, should I base my health decisions on a fictional movie? Maybe. Isn’t imagination one of the greatest tools we could ever utilize? I’d say yes. Is this scene not highly relatable? It is for me. Have you ever been inspired by a fictional character? I have.
But regardless of this being fictional, this moment represents something familiar that many of us have encountered, not just in the doctor’s office but in all sorts of spaces. Think about it, you have an idea or decide to go after something that feels right in the intuition or heart, or it’s just a general curiosity that feels worth exploring, and you share it with someone, and it’s met with discouragement or certainty that your vision isn’t going to work. PHOOEY. Let me ask, how could someone have all the answers for you? Where do they get their research? Better yet, where does their discouragement originate?
What human has never encountered this kind of discouragement? For this reason, this scene caught my attention. Noah had an idea, a curiosity, passion, and lots of love, and he was willing to go for it. Good lord, haters are going to hate, and those who have forgotten how to dream might attempt to crush yours. Have you ever had an idea and it was met with discouragment, but you went for it anyway, and it turned out brilliantly? What about having an idea that was met with discouragement, so you didn’t go for it, and you regret it thereafter?
Not to mention, the pure desire to go after something, try something new or original or unheard of, is reason enough, and not everyone will get it. It might not work, but it doesn’t have to. At least you tried and experimented with your life.
Through this scene, I was reminded to be intentional about the people I choose to let into my life, including friends, business partners, and yes, doctors.
This scene also inspired me to ask What do I want in a doctor?
What kind of people do I want in my life?
Am I intentional about the people with whom I share my dreams and ideas?
Yes, it’s just a couple minutes of the movie, but this scene also reminded me how important it is to connect to the imagination and intuition, follow it, and listen to it throughout life, even when other folks are a bit or very discouraging.
Thank you to the notebook for being a teacher and a tender source of entertainment through the years.