13 Conversations About One Thing

13 Conversations About One Thing

The Dalai Lama says that all beings want to be happy and all beings want to avoid suffering. 13 Conversations About One Thing speaks to this democracy of humanity. It is about happiness: the search for happiness, the envy of happiness, the loss of happiness, and the guilt about undeserved happiness.

On the surface this film is about the confusing experiences of life. There is an attorney who wins a big case, celebrates his success in a local pub, buys a drink for a pessimist he sees at the end of the bar, drives home drunk and almost kills somebody. There is a middle management person who needs to fire somebody, so he fires the happiest guy in the office because he will be able to see the silver lining in the situation. It’s about a married man who seeks happiness in an affair because society says it is a way to happiness. It is about a woman who works hard for her clients who can only criticize her… It is about the connections between these unhappy people seeking to be happy.

The movie finds connections between people who think they are strangers, finding the answer to one person’s problem in the question raised by another. Although one might need to take the longer view of karma to understand the seemingly random relationship between cause and effect in the film, the knowledge that life is suffering is clear. Even so, the yearning for personal happiness and the happiness of others comes through. Indeed, the film concludes there is a way to find happiness. No, it is not an introduction to the Lam Rim, but it is an attempt to foster curiosity about all of the interlocking events that add up to our lives. It is a call to notice connections, to understand the ways things work out… to seek real happiness.