Trainspotting is one of those books and films that just nailed me when the collection of stories was released back in 1993. Danny Boyle's filmed amalgam of the book was likewise revolutionary for me in the same way Fight Club was later.
While never a petty thief, I understood the power of addiction to serious drugs and the feelings that somehow society had failed me. The anger and sense of being left behind as those engaged fully in the corporate dogma and worship of capitalism resulted in plenty of late night violence and waking up bruised and bloody and wondering what the fuck had happened.
When Renton leaves at the conclusion, vowing to live a more stable life, I felt that decision in my marrow.
Twenty years later, the continuation of his journey managed to speak to my fifty-one-year-old self in a very similar way.
Early in the film after Renton has returned, he confesses that he had to have heart surgery and the docs granted he had another thirty years. He pops off that he has no fucking idea to do with himself for another thirty years and it's freaking him out. Three years, he says, is doable and manageable but thirty?
As someone essentially my age (maybe a bit younger) whose life has taken a major change in several ways looking out into the vast expanse of time and wondering what he's going to do with the time and himself punched me in the gut like a dodgeball launched by a steroid-infused bro.
I was, in 1993, completely in tune with Renton's "Choose Life" monologue:
Twenty years later, I am 100% in tune with his fresher but older take on the same:
Recently, I received an award for working on the Chicago Improv Festival some fifteen years ago. On the 20th Anniversary of the festival. It was a nice thing to be given a plaque. It was also an odd, surrealistic thing to be in the same place I was so many years ago, surrounded by some of the same people, doing the same things.
I didn't feel old, really. I felt as if time is a ride and the landscape keeps coming back around, the signs along the tracks revealing themselves as carbon copies of the ones I had seen before.
I think I'll continue to choose life. Choose my future. Everything, after all, is a choice. Every breath we take is a choice.