I know you just rolled your eyes; I could see it. In fact, I just rolled my own eyes. I'm not a huge believer in reincarnation. But I don't actively disbelieve it, either. And there must be some reason why I've felt this strong emotional connection to the Titanic saga for so many years.
In the mid 90s, before James Cameron's epic spectacle Titanic was first released, I became completely absorbed by the Titanic. I read numerous books, devoured old movies (especially A Night to Remember). I even joined the Titanic historical society. I became a Titanic geek.
I can account for my Titanic obsession logically, to a point. I'm still fascinated by all the mistakes that were made, before and after the iceberg collision. I mean, they didn't even have a pair of binoculars in the ship's lookout tower at the time the iceberg approached!
I'm also a wee bit drawn to disaster tales. For this, I have Irwin Allen, the producer of all those 1970s disaster epics like The Poseidon Adventure, to thank. And the rapid technological changes occurring at the time of the Titanic's sinking, such as the advent of the telephone and automobile, fascinate me as well.
|Isidor and Ida Straus|
Last weekend, as I watched the ship sink in 3D, I felt flooded with sadness. Not because of the movie's love story, which I still find contrived. Not because of the 3D effect, though certainly it made everything more vivid, like a dream turned into nightmare. I've never gotten choked up during a disaster movie in my entire life (not even when Stella Stevens died in The Poseidon Adventure). What was going on?
The Titanic picked up 123 passengers in Ireland, most of them poor emigrants; only 44 survived. I have strong Irish roots, certainly on my mother's side. Could it be that I'm the reincarnation of an Irish passenger who died on the ship?
There's another explanation, of course. I recently turned 54. Could it be that disaster stories are no longer just the "cool" spectacles of mass destruction they were for me when I was younger? Given my stage in life, am I more emotionally attuned to the loss of life?
Because I'm a relatively practical person, I'll go with option number two.
And yet, amid all the Titanic anniversary commemorations going on now, it's important to remember that 1,517 people died. The tragedy created countless widows and orphans; it changed more lives than it ended, and for decades to come. Maybe you and I weren't on board the ship 100 years ago. But isn't it possible that the ship's sinking had some unknown impact on who we are today?