“Save Some Things Just For You”
5 minute read
When I mention the movie Saving Private Ryan, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
The opening sequence of Steven Spielberg’s 1998 movie was ground-breaking, with the recreation of the Omaha Beach landings being unlike anything we’d ever seen on the silver screen.
The no-holds barred approach to such a brutal event in human history left the viewer feeling shellshocked, and although 25 years have now passed since it was first released, the realism still holds up.
It was bold, it was important, and it took your breath away.
But there is so much more that this movie has to offer, and one of my favourite scenes is perhaps one that doesn’t instantly come to mind.
Towards the end of the movie, with Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) having successfully located the whereabouts (1) of Private James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon); there is a short scene between the two men as they talk about their lives back home.
Private Ryan – having lost all three of his brothers in battle – is struggling to remember their faces, and so Captain Miller suggests thinking about them in terms of a context, to recall a memory.
Captain Miller helps him to do this by briefly mentioning some of his own memories from back home, with one being that of his wife pruning their rose bushes. And so Private Ryan thinks for a moment before reciting an hilarious anecdote about his brothers, which was actually the last time the four of them were together.
He laughs almost uncontrollably while telling his story, but once he’s finished, he settles into quiet reflection before looking up at Captain Miller. With a mournful song by Edith Piaf still playing over the gramophone, he asks…
“Tell me about your wife and those rose bushes?”
After being lost in thought, Captain Miller replies.
“No. No, that one I save just for me.”
As I sit here writing this article, I’m sat beside the window of a beautiful log cabin on my annual writing retreat.
The cabin is located deep in the countryside, nestled high up on the hill of a dramatically wooded valley. The interior is cosy and idyllic, with the lamps making the logged walls glow with a warm orange hue.
Each morning I get out of bed while it’s still dark, and then I prepare myself a coffee before stepping outside into the freezing morning air and then into the hot tub; the perfect warmth of the water swallowing up my entire body, right up to my chin.
I don’t bother turning on the bubbles, and instead choose to enjoy the silence with the steam rising around me.
I watch the sunrise as I drink my coffee, witnessing the world come alive and changing from night to day. There’s a canopy of trees to one side of me, and a river that runs beside my cabin with a small cascading waterfall.
The sound of flowing water is soothing, and enthusiastic birdsong begins to inspire me, allowing ideas to flow for the day of writing ahead of me.
I’ll do exactly the same for sunset, enjoying the reverse of the morning and seeing the world going back to sleep; and then I’ll retreat inside, prepare the log burner, and then sit beside the fire for an evening of reading.
It’s now snowing, and the dense green valley has turned into a beautiful heavenly white. Thick flakes are settling on the lid of the hot tub, and I feel serene.
I feel at peace.
A number of people have asked me to tell them where this cabin is, and you may be wanting to ask me the same. But I’ll say the very same thing to you that I always say to them.
No, this one I save just for me.
Sharing who we are and what we care about is a powerful thing to do. It allows closeness to be built, relationships to solidify, and it’s the bedrock to any form of intimacy.
But there is also such a thing as sharing too much.
This is a wide-ranging subject and there are many contexts in which it could be discussed, so for the purpose of this article I’m focussing purely upon the sharing of the things that matter to us.
This can relate to a myriad of things; a favourite place, memory, achievement, or even a film or song.
It’s completely natural to want to share our favourite things with other people and to introduce them to something we care about, but the problem with this is that what matters to us won’t necessarily matter to them. And what had an impact on us, may have very little impact to the person we choose to share it with.
Have you ever been in a position where you’ve told a story that in your mind was either profound or hilarious, but then all it was met with was either a forced laugh or a blank expression?
When this happens, it can make us feel foolish, and then it’s easy to begin questioning the significance of our story. Was it really as funny as we remembered? Was that thing really not as important as we made it out to be?
It can, in essence, take the power out of something that really mattered to us and filters it into something of less meaning.
Have you ever played your favourite movie or song to a partner, which led to feelings of that person becoming attached to those things also? And has that relationship then later fallen apart and come to an end?
When this happens, the intimacy and the love that was shared will have become so enmeshed with the experience that we can no longer watch our favourite movie. That movie is gone. It’s now ruined.
And hearing just the opening few notes of our favourite song is now enough to break our hearts all over again. A source of joy has now become a source of pain.
So what’s the answer to this? Do we choose to never share these things with people again?
Of course not.
The answer, as always, is found somewhere in the middle. And by getting this balance right, you’ll not only feel great about yourself, but you’ll also be able to nurture stronger relationships.
Share your top movies, but save your absolute favourite just for you.
Play some of your most beloved songs, but hold back the most powerful of them all.
Tell your favourite stories and be vulnerable, but keep a couple of the proudest and most profound ones just for you.
Over the years I’ve found that having a few things that only we know about can be a superpower.
Maybe you performed a random act of kindness that you never told anybody about.
Perhaps you experienced a magical once-in-a-lifetime moment while you were travelling, yet you’ve never spoken of it to anybody.
And maybe you have a song that lifts your heart and fills you with hope, yet you’ve only ever listened to it alone.
Whatever it may be, these things can be a source of strength for you. Being aware of the good you’ve done, knowing that you can lead a fulfilling life, and having a song that can inspire you to be a better person; all of these things are a source of self-esteem and will allow you to respect yourself on a deeper level.
But the moment they’re shared, it can feel like the lifeblood has flowed out of your veins, and the fire in your belly has disappeared.
These things need to be kept for yourself. They need to be your fuel for a life best lived.
When Private James Ryan shared his story with Captain John Miller, there’s a moment of quietness that lingers.
The most likely reason for this is that through having spent a moment remembering his brothers, the realisation of their loss has landed hard.
But another reason for this could be that Captain Miller responded to the story with only a courteous amount of humour, and a couple of token words that are indistinguishable.
Maybe Private Ryan felt that.
When Captain Miller was asked to share his own story, he was only too aware that it would mean very little to anybody but himself, and perhaps he needed to hold onto the strength of that story to take him into the next battle.
He did, quite rightly, choose to save it for himself.
And I urge you also, my friends, to save some things just for you.
You can watch the scene from Saving Private Ryan by clicking on this thumbnail link below.
(1) Don’t come moaning to me about spoiler alerts. If you’ve not seen the movie by now then that’s your own fault. You’ve had 25 years for goodness sake.
Did this article resonate with you and do you know of anybody that would appreciate reading it? If so then please do feel free to share this article wherever you can.
Do you have any thoughts or opinions on anything you’ve just read? How does it apply to your life? What has been your experience of sharing your favourite things with others? Do you feel it’s possible to overshare? And what are your thoughts on keeping some things just for yourself? Is there anything you’d be happy to share with us? And do you have any other related thoughts about this article that you’d like to share with other readers? Or do you have any questions of your own to ask that either myself or my readers can give an opinion on? Please feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll begin a conversation.
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Very interesting blog! I have been meaning to watch Saving Private Ryan again, so I will for sure do so now.
You raise a really good point about the danger of oversharing. I am a very open & honest person & tend to be very open sharing whatever I feel needs to be said in any given moment….but I really try & be very mindful about what the potential impact of my words will be on the other person. When I am in a fragile state & going through a difficult patch,, I will for sure hold back on sharing a personal experience if I think the person might not respond in the way I need them to. Because you are right, another person’s blah response may not be what I need!
Most of the time, however, when I am emotionally & mentally stable, happy & healthy, I find that I share a story or experience with someone if I suspect it will help them in some way, or strengthen my bond with them. And I even if I get a blah response, that doesn’t seem to lessen the significance of that memory/ experience…to me.
This was a very thought-provoking blog…so thank you for sharing!
Thanks to the discovery of social media, the line between what counts as privacy and public has become a bit blurred. Exposing your very own personal problems to the world has become a lot more socially justifiable. I think it’s always a balance: if you share little or nothing of yourself, then what’s the point of trying to connect with other people? Without somebody showing some vulnerability, there’s no way to make connections between people.
We are social creatures by design. When something is on our mind or we are in the process of figuring things out, we may ask other people for their input, expertise, opinion or simply to hear our side of the story to respond with support. Timing is everything. WHO we are sharing TO is also, everything. The old adage “think before you speak” is a good approach in most cases.
Over-sharing is common when you’re someone who is socially anxious like me. I have a tendency to stray into the minefield of oversharing. I tell people about my private life. I answer too honestly when people ask me how I am doing. I care about why people are who they are, how they got to be that way, and what it means to be them.
There are a lot of reasons we word-vomit our life stories on people. I can never tell how much of myself I can share with others without oversharing. How do I know if I’m too much? How do I know how much space on this planet I am allowed to occupy with my issues and emotions? I don’t mind when people overshare with me, though. It shows that I give a trustworthy vibe and I’m pretty open minded. I start to overshare the moment I feel comfortable with a person.
What one needs to pay attention to is how the person receiving this information reacts.. And how the person responds.
Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing, Elliot! 🙂