The theatrical drama Skylight has moved to the US, bringing Bill Nighy and spaghetti bolognaise to Broadway. The story describes a the meeting, after three years, of two former lovers. Their prior relationship ended badly, and the night’s drama explores a possible rekindling. Love, clearly, but also so much that separates them, observes the Times.
I’m intrigued by Bill Nighy, who I used to think could only play poignant burn-outs in light comedies like Love Actually and The Boat that Rocked. I saw more depth in him during the Marigold Hotel films and subsequent interviews, though. and I would love to see him fill this stage role.
Then I began to wonder if he was an Old Soul.
Old souls are wise beyond their years: they have seen and done much, travelled far and met many types of people. These wide experiences build understanding and compassion, a calm affect beneath a world-weary gaze.
Some believe more literally that Old Souls live through a sequence of lives rather than places, their immaterial identity passing from one body to another over eons. The journey grants wise insight and observant calm, finding peace beyond material things.
Spirituality aside, there are Old Soul qualities that psychologists list: thoughtful, reflective, mature, separate in their ways. They draw in strangers easily and listen with empathy and understanding. They savor life’s quieter moments,seeking periods of introspective separation from the ‘real world’.
I’ve known the type. Their lives are composed as a series of disconnected vignettes, each characterized by its own location, job, friends and relationship. Every few years, one life is set aside, and another takes its place. Yet the individual beads fit when joined as a necklace.
I think of the expats I know, their beliefs and perspectives shaped by the places they’ve lived, the varieties of human happiness and pain they’ve met.
I know post-docs and deep thinkers who’ve built reputations and networks out of their skills and friendships across many commissions.
I’ve met many with personal stories of deep love and loss, who never succumb to infatuation or cynicism but search for what’s good and true in everyone that they meet. (‘and some advice on loving Old Souls)
The Old Souls are always easy to spot at academic conventions and expat gatherings: they relax in a small circle of people, sharing stories and experiences, swapping advice and ideas for their next journey. They know their gifts and share them easily, so they are always relaxed, insightful companions to have along the road or starting a project.
There’s a suggestion that Nighy is simply a louche: Disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way.
I got briefly mistaken for someone who might be good in bed, which was very, very good.
I prefer to hope that there is a good reflection of the man inside the parts they play:
One of my great regrets, and I don’t have many, is that I spent too long putting people’s status and reputation ahead of their more important qualities. I learned far too late in life that a long list of letters after someone’s name is no guarantee of compassion, kindness, humour, all the far more relevant stuff. Bill Nighy