This week I watched Paris is Burning, a 1990 documentary film about people who find themselves in the margins of society and create a world where they can belong. The film drags at time, pun intended, but overall, it’s a remarkable storytelling piece that humanizes and poses (another pun) lots of questions.
The film ends with one of the performers, Dorian Corey, getting ready for a show and sharing her personal philosophy of life. The juxtaposition of the performer putting on make-up before the show and her clear-eyed approach to living, one that emerges out of tremendous suffering and struggle, is a powerful statement, one that challenges an easily marketed social media version of life.
The biblical “Ecclesiastes” comes to mind. There’s futility in all we do. There’s beauty in finding pleasure in doing what is futile when we do so with awareness and kindness. There’s warmth and serenity in knowing that our life intertwined with others—those few that can see us as we are and love us unconditionally—allows us to leave a mark when the costume that is our body gets dropped.