It's all about the harmony of the universe you know..
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The Max Von Sydow Connection by Martin Green.


I have a friend here in our retirement community, Paul Lerner, who’s by way of being a writer. He writes for a senior newspaper we get and also writes short stories for an online magazine with a funny name, mop-something. I mention this because I guess being a writer explains why he has a wild imagination and comes up with these crazy ideas. The other day, after our weekly chess game, he asked, “Have you ever heard of a Swedish actor, Max Von Sydow?”

“The name sounds familiar,” I answered.

“He started in Ingmar Bergman’s films. In “Seventh Seal,” he was a knight who plays chess with the devil.”

“I don’t think I saw that one.”

“Anyway he went to Hollywood and he’s made a lot of movies, some good and a lot not so good.”

“So, what about him?”

“Did I tell you I bought an iPad last month?”

“Yes, several times.”

“Right. One of the apps I got was Netflix. You know I’m a Woody Allen fan.”

“I’ve seen some of his movies. Pretty funny.”

“Yes, his early films were comedies. Then he wanted to do more serious ones, like Ingmar Bergman’s. Netflix had a very good documentary on Woody Allen’s career on the iPad. After I watched that I naturally became interested in Ingmar Bergman’s movies and I found out some of his early ones were on Netflix on the iPad so I watched them and the leading man was …”

“Max Von Sydow.”

“Right. A very young Max Von Sydow. In fact, I looked it up; he’s about the same age as we are.’

“Pretty old. So what about it?”

“A couple of nights ago we watched a movie on TV, not from Netflix; I think we recorded it from one of the cable channels. It was called “Incredibly Close and Very Noisy.” It’s about a boy whose father is killed on 9/11. There’s an old guy in it, the boy’s grandfather. The actor who played him was …”

“Max Von Sydow.”

“Right again. A much older Max Von Sydow.”

“Okay, I’m still waiting.”

“The movie is really about atonement. The boy didn’t take a phone call from his father so his mother never got a chance to say good-bye. In the movie, the boy searches for people who might have known his father. It comes out that he didn’t take his father’s last phone call, so he’s driven by guilt. He finally tells his mother at the end. The thing is that I’ve been meaning to call my cousin in New York. We had a fight, I can’t even remember about what, and we haven’t spoken in years. Seeing that movie made we realize we aren’t getting any younger and I’d better do something before it was too late.”

“How do you know he’s still alive?”

“I called my sister. She’s still in contact with him and she had his phone number.”

“So you called him and you kissed and made up.”

“No, I called and got his answering machine so I left a message.”

“Has he called back?”

“Not yet.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it, for now. But you don’t get the point. It took all of those seemingly random events to get me to make that phone call. Watching that Woody Allen documentary. Watching those early Ingmar Bergman movies. Seeing Max Von Sydow in that movie about 9/11. Even, going back further, getting an iPad.”

“But those are just things that happened.”

“As I said, seemingly random events. But, you see, the harmony of the universe was disturbed because of the discord between myself and my cousin. It had to be restored and those not-so-random events saw to it that it was.”

“Harmony of the universe?”

“Yes. It’s a philosophical tenet.”

“If you say so.”

We left it at that, but the thing is that my wife and I watched an episode in a TV miniseries, the Tudors, last night. It’s one of those historical dramas with lots of conspiracies, betrayals, violence and sex. When they ran the cast of characters I saw that one of the actors was Max Von Sydow, This reminded me of Paul and his cousin and this reminded me that I had a situation like that of my own. It wasn’t that I’d had a fight with someone years ago, but I had a good friend living in San Francisco and I guess you’d say we’d had a cooling off. I’d been meaning to call him for, oh, I guess a couple of years. I looked and found I had his phone number. I’ll try to get him tomorrow. I wouldn’t want to disrupt the harmony of the universe, right?



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