Imagine your life captured on film for half a century. Imagine that since the age of 7, someone collected your thoughts about life. Imagine that your hopes and dreams, your successes and disappointments, were all recorded and then seen by thousands of people around the world.
Participants in the documentary 56 Up lived this experience. In 1964, filmmaker Michael Apted interviewed 14 English children ranging from the boarding school boy who dreamed of entering politics to the little one raised in a children’s home. He continued to interview them every seven years.
Their innocent faces as young children were precious. Charming, full of hope. Surely one of them would be spared. But it was not to be. Each was flung into the fury of life. Marriage, babies, infidelity, divorce. Graduations, promotions, layoffs, homelessness.
Some were abandoned when they were tiny tots, some when they were in love. Some acquired wealth only to see it evaporate. Some never found a career. Others lost theirs when the economy turned.
No matter their start in life, none was spared. All suffered heartbreak for some reason, for some season.
Watching these ordinary people of extraordinary courage simply carry on with their lives despite the inevitable setbacks was a testament to the human capacity for resilience and perseverance. At the end of the day, each of them carried on bravely. Their choice to shun regret and to move forward with their lives was a lesson we all could take to heart, even when our setback is divorce.
How they chose to persevere best, I think, was in their decision to love again.
Universal in their decades of experience was the happiness in life found by the relentless choice to keep loving: The boy who grew up without a father who became a dedicated foster parent; The single mom who grew close to her children’s grandmother with cancer; The man who never married who ministered to his fellow church members; The disabled librarian who fell in love with her preemie grandchild.
Divorce can break our heart. May perseverance in loving be a balm for healing yours.