When are you allowed to lose it? Relatos Salvajes and thoughts on losing it and our authentic selves

A few weeks ago, we gathered for our first session in a new series I am running — El Club de los Cineastas — where we’ll gather to watch a film in Spanish and then discuss the film afterward. It’s $5 or you can bring a bottle of wine to share, and no one will be turned away. English and Spanish speakers are welcome, but we’re trying to just speak Spanish for the evening. I plan on doing a recap of each film and, my goal, is to eventually write this in Spanish. Eek! 

The first film we viewed is called Relatos Salvajes, an Argentine-Spanish black comedy directed by Damián Szifron and released in 2014. The film consists of six shorts that are unrelated, but all deal with people simply losing it: a plane full of strangers who all have one terrible thing in common, an accidental revenge, a deadly episode of road rage, a last straw parking ticket, a rich man being taken advantage of, an ill-timed revelation at a wedding.

In each story, one or many characters devolve into crazy acts. The acts are somewhat believable thanks to the series of events that lead up to them, which escalate a simple misunderstanding or mishap into a life or death situation. It’s like watching cringe comedy’s silly twin sister — instead of unbearable awkwardness with no release, the stories are lovable bursts of human emotion, audacious manifestations of human feelings where the explosion is a fun, light hearted, but strange, reaction that we actually enjoy watching. The characters are given permission to lose it — and they do so lengthily with grace.

Films help us imagine other realities. In Relatos Salvajes we get to enjoy what happens if we were to just let go and do the crazy, illegal, immoral, insane thing we want to do when we are mad, angry, sad, or frustrated.

It made me think — when are we allowed to lose it? When do we get to say ‘I’ve had enough’ and scream and break down the wall and toss our things everywhere? Was the last time I could  reasonably throw a tantrum decades ago? How is everyone keeping it all in all the time? Or are we?

I think it’s normal to want to explode on occasion. And, right now, with so many terrible things going on in the world (which, let’s be honest, maybe has always been the case?), it seems perfectly reasonable to continually want to lose it.

Another way to deal with the unbearable is to be fantastic — be surreal. I think this is where art and culture can help us make sense of the world around us. Instead of doing the obvious and shouting and stomping around, why not do something completely unexpected? Why not create something completely unexpected?

Maybe we can embrace a little bit of our toddler tantrum selves, but instead of losing it in a violent, predictable way, we can try to lose it with some imagination — in a surreal, magical way no one is expecting. I’m working on this myself (along with regularly seeing a therapist, which I highly recommend. I also recommend voting for policies so everyone has access to comprehensive, single-payer health care so we can all take care of our bodies and minds).

Another thing this movie made me think about is authenticity, our social media selves, and what makes me, personally, feel better when I’m about to lose it. It seems like so many of us share so much of our lives online — through photos and captions — but why? What is the purpose? Is it cathartic? Is it for praise? Is it an effort to fit in to this imaginary status quo? To keep up with the influencers? Are we trying to get a reaction out of someone? Do we need a hug?

I bring this up, because I think sharing things via social media is an opportunity where we can share our pain and release our frustrations, but it falls short of making me, at least, feel better because it requires no feedback. It’s en vogue now to share our authentic selves, but what about nurturing our authentic friends? In real life? Won’t that make us feel more connected than sharing our lives like a television station via Instagram stories and then, maybe, if we are lucky, receiving a few virtual emoji hearts? 

Every time I share something online it’s like a tiny piece of me dies. It’s like I’ve let out a little bit of my soul out into the universe and maybe, if I’m lucky, someone will find it and respond or maybe I’ll just be floating forever in the cyber universe. No little emoji heart. No feedback. No hug.

Sometimes I want to lose it because I get stressed out by the pressure to share my life, my real, authentic life, online. Sometimes my life is not great. Sometimes I am sad. Sometimes I can’t move from one spot on the floor where I’ve decided to sit because I’m feeling low. 

I am trying to put this energy and all this authentic feeling into something like this blog post or, eventually, a piece of art or dare I say book, instead of a fleeting social media post. I want my losing it experiences to build something like art, something like culture, that I hope will help someone else in the future, when they are about to lose it, too. Because it will happen. And I am very glad that Damián Szifron, the director of Relatos Salvajes, and the team behind the film did just that in making such a delightful movie. 

I don’t think we should all go radio silent online, and it’s certainly not an either/or situation — you can still build towards making something while sharing snippets online, but I do think that if we put more energy into seeing our friends and family in person or one-on-one via a phone call or google hangout, and sharing our authentic selves in person, which I think is much harder, then we might feel a little better. I know I feel better when I have one-on-one time with people who I know care about me. It fills up my reserves and I feel like I am not alone the next time I lose it.

I’m giving you person to lose it. Maybe not in the same extreme ways the characters in Relatos Salvajes do (though, watch the film for some catharsis), but definitely let yourself feel and be. I hope you can find some way to create something out of your experience. And I hope you can find someone to share your true self with, in person or online, but in a way where you can get a real hug next time you need it.