There are minor spoilers in this article.

Netflix has been branching out beyond stories set in the U.S., and has even distributed some excellent foreign shows that have found popularity in America. For example, “3%” is a Brazilian show, but was recommended to me by many of my friends. Netflix has released its first season of the German show “Dark,” a mystery, thriller and sci-fi all crafted into one (produced by Wiedemann & Berg Television). It’s the type of show that has your mind twisting and turning all the way through, and will undoubtedly make for an excellent second watch-through.

Television shows and movies have a way of speaking to me, as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve read many of my articles. A good show will resonate with me in various ways, and “Dark” did exactly that, questioning the nature of time, free will and concepts like destiny and fate, all in a compelling, thrilling and sometimes creepy way. Why and how do these themes resonate with us? We are generally not so concerned with time bending or time travel or anything like that.

With that said, we very easily get consumed with living in the future or living in the past. The military instilled that in me, and it’s a useful tool as long as it doesn’t get abused. You look forward to your next objective, and you look back to recognize and never repeat your mistakes. Live and learn, as they say. As someone who exited the military, these things are equally important — especially looking forward. Without something to look forward to it’s easy to drown in the past. It’s easy to get lost in the glory days when you could be making new glory days in the civilian world.

But this all must be tempered with a sense of being present.

Different cultures have all sorts of forms of “therapy” that apply to mental health. Meditation, retreats, fasting, hunting, exploring nature and animal companionship all have one thing in common: they bring you back to the present. They take you out of the winding roller-coasters of the past; they take you out of the tantalizing or depressing promises of the future that never quite seems to arrive or may arrive all too often. These therapies snap you back to the right here and now, and that’s exactly what makes them therapeutic. I don’t mean present events, I mean literally where you’re sitting or standing, what you’re feeling under your fingertips or the smells wafting into your nose. The specs of dust floating through the rays of light near your living room window.

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Today’s world works about as hard as it can to rip people out of the present and put them somewhere else. Technology can be an effective tool, but things like social media and cell phones can also bring you away from the present, just like constantly obsessing over the future or dreaming of the past.

Netflix’s “Dark” speaks to exactly this. Like with any fiction, especially science fiction, drama is just an exaggeration of true facets of the human condition. “Dark” dramatizes this with physical manifestations of the past and present, constantly at grips with one another, threatening to tear apart the present.

It’s important to look back in order to understand the past. It’s extremely important, especially for veterans, to look forward and grab onto something worth grabbing onto. It’s also important to stop, take a breath, and feel the grass beneath your feet or the sheets under you where you lay. To take a few deep breaths and enjoy the things worth enjoying, even if you can only think of one or two. If you’re thinking nostalgically about the past now, there is likely something in your present that you will one day look nostalgically back upon — figure out what that is, and just take a second to enjoy it.

 

Images courtesy of Netflix and Wiedemann & Berg Television.