Wisdom from Jojo Rabbit

About a month ago, we had a family movie night and we let Stephen pick the movie. He chose Jojo Rabbit. We had never heard of this movie (which shows how out of the loop we are with critically well received films) and asked him where he had heard of it and he told us it was discussed on some Reddit groups he follows. Well, what is it about, we asked. “A kid in Nazi Germany who’s imaginary friend is Adolph Hitler.” Of course. A dark comedy about Nazis. Perfect for family night.

It wound up being a really good movie. It was odd. It was funny. It was sad, even tragic. But it was hopeful, in the way that only childhood innocence can convey. It has stayed with me so much and I think I will definitely rewatch it. Jojo is this ten year old boy, living in Germany at the very end of World War II without a father figure. He has a very strong mother, played brilliantly by Scarlett Johansson, but that father figure is filled by his imaginary friend Adolf, who bears a striking resemblance to the dictatorial monster of the same name. Adolf gives Jojo pep talks and encourages him and Jojo also talks to himself in his mirror to bolster his courage. His own voice becomes stronger as events and history play out in the film. It’s one of those mirror sessions near the end that has stayed with me. As Jojo dresses to go out and face this new post war world, finding his own strength, he looks himself in the mirror and says, “Jojo Betzler. Ten and a half years old. Today, just do what you can.”

I wrote that in my journal a month ago.

Today, my journal fell open to that page when I dropped it. These are some weird times we are living in. There’s no script. There isn’t even a rough outline for a script. We wake up every day to a new reality. New numbers. New restrictions. New hardships. It is so hard to focus on anything because we’re trying to process all the new and what the new will mean for tomorrow while still holding tension that tomorrow will also bring more new. I haven’t been able to focus on anything for longer than five minutes.

Yesterday I finished a book. It took a lot longer than 250 pages normally takes me. I’m finally writing, because up until this morning, I haven’t had the patience to stare at a blank screen with a blinking cursor and try to string words together. But this morning, I looked at that journal page and I knew I could tell this story. I don’t have answers or profound wisdom to offer except the hopeful line of a ten year old movie character.

Today, just do what you can.

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