Quintessence of Life

Quintessence - the title of the song I walked down the aisle to.

It comes from the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – my absolute favorite movie for a multitude of reasons, too many to list. The song comes toward the end of the movie when (spoiler alert) Walter brings in the photograph that is described as the “Quintessence of Life,” meaning that this single photograph embodies everything Life Magazine is about, everything they stand for as a company.

As I watched the movie and listened to the score later on, I could only see this song as a wedding march: the gradual build, the strings, horns, ooos and ahhs, all leading up to a beautiful crescendo where the doors open and the bride in all her glory walks toward her groom. It made me cry almost every time I listened. Such hope, promise, beauty – the quintessence of life.

In that final scene of the movie, we finally see the image that represents the essence of that Life Magazine is all about – the Quintessence. It’s Walter, analyzing the negative assets, which was his day to day job. He processed every photo that made its way into the magazine. It was tedious work and at times monotonous, but he got to witness the raw beauty up close. The raw beauty that no one else would get to see. The readers would simply get to glimpse the final product.

What I like to believe Ben Stiller was trying to convey as this song was being played is that the quintessential moments of life are not the grandiose moments, but rather the ordinary ones. They bring purpose to the bigger picture.  

In the almost 5 months of marriage Erik and I have experienced together, we can’t offer a ton of wisdom, but I now have a greater understanding of that song I walked down the aisle to. Erik and I get to analyze the negative assets, we get to see the unedited versions of one another and choose to love.

In the final scene of the movie, that image of the Quintessence of Life was posted on the front page of the final issue of the magazine. Every reader got to see a glimpse of what really goes on behind the magazine – what really goes on behind the scenes and the beauty that’s in that.

My hope is that Erik and I will choose to represent the quintessence with each of you. Not just showing “perfect selves” (which is not true of anyone) or grandiose moments, but rather giving you glimpses of the in-between moments – for in those moments lie the quintessence of life.