I am a huge fan of art house cinema with a preference for Japanese and Indian films.
There is a Japanese film entitled Ikiru in which a minor bureaucrat finds that he has stomach cancer and a few months to live. For the past thirty years his life has been one of endless drudgery and his certificates for loyal service mock him from the wall. He attempts hedonism and finds it unfulfilling and turns to altruism, a last act of turning a cesspool into a play park for children. Opposed by a culture of 'its best to do nothing' and city bureaucrats more interested in preserving their own positions he eventually triumphs.
As a Christian existentialist this appealed to me no end. I thought about my own little town and the people in it, how many of us were really alive not merely existing in some kind of endless drudgery. Is it like some kind of horrific facade? a pretence of living? some ghoulish apparition? a ghost town full of people who stopped living twenty years ago? Perhaps there are lots of meaningful acts that I am not party to? little things, not necessarily building play parks, but small gestures and acts of kindness.
The interesting phenomena was that at his wake his co-workers while inebriated were emboldened to carry on his legacy but on sobering up returned to their mindless drudgery simply being content to protect their own positions. Was our friends act one of futility? Not for him. For him it made him alive and he felt that he was really living. Not for the children and their mothers who used to live beside the cesspool. Just a single meaningful act can make us feel alive. Isn't it interesting?