Movie Review: Life Lessons from Earthquake Bird

Image from Netflix’s Earthquake Bird

Updated: January 16, 2023

Today, I decided to catch up on my Netflix watch later playlist. I had saved “Earthquake Bird,” thinking it was going to be a murder mystery. But it was so much more than that.

Earthquake Bird is a psych-mystery about a young woman, Lucy Fly, living in Japan who gets caught up in a romance with a handsome stranger that eventually leads to the murder of her best friend.

Because I am not a jerk, I will try my best NOT to deliver any spoilers here. Nor do I want this to be a review. But, the ending of this movie inspired me to write about the lesson I feel it gives and how it relates to my life.

If you have read my memoir, you know the traumatic event that occurred in 2014, and how much it affected my family. What I have yet to write publicly about is just how much damage having my kids suddenly snatched by the system shattered my self-esteem. It had the effect of altering the parental landscape within my home, and even encouraged (among other things!) my children’s disrespect of my position as the authority figure in their lives. Seeing this constantly invoked a sense of inadequacy and hopelessness within me. I sought out support for my struggles to no avail; child protective services and healthcare, including mental health, are thriving businesses in the state of Indiana, and it shows. So, for the last five years I have struggled greatly with keeping my mental and emotional health in tact, without being afforded the ability to focus on my healing.

The specifics of these circumstances will reveal that much of what I have endured was largely beyond my control, but I internalized my trauma in such a way that I became a walking zombie. There was a point in 2019 in which I felt I had truly reached the end of my rope. I was simply hanging on, going through the motions day by day for the sake of my children’s survival.

And then, a lifesaver.

He came at the start of summer. It was truly whirlwind, and because I thought it was real, I dropped my guard, making exceptions for things I usually wouldn’t allow, and sharing my secret pain in moments of vulnerability. Things like this are okay to do when in love with the right person. But the buried trauma of my pain kept me from seeing he wasn’t the right one. I think mostly, I was just tired of fighting. Tired of being strong. And he knew this, and actively worked to take advantage of this. Much like with Lucy Fly, there were signs about who he truly was. But, I was so comforted by the idea that I finally had someone with whom I could share my hurt with that I could not see the secrets he was hiding in his own pain.

Long story short, the lesson Earthquake Bird taught me is this: If you don’t heal what is hurting you, it will follow you wherever you go.

Much like the protagonist, I allowed the unwarranted guilt of a certain situation to haunt me. 2014 was such a pivotal moment for me in many ways, the emotional scar it left made it hard to move on. As a result, my entire perception of our relationship was built on the foundation of guilt and hopelessness caused by this original trauma, along with everything that followed after.

And much like Lucy Fly, I came to realize that my relationship with him was a fork in the road moment. Go left and lose the most important part of myself, or go right and keep my soul intact. I am sure I chose the right path to follow, but because I am still progressing through my healing, sometimes I wonder.

My advice, Dear Reader, is to finally let go of whatever is haunting you. Don’t spend another decade running from it, because you are only prolonging the inevitable. There’s a part in Earthquake Bird where Lucy Fly talks about how long she had been planning the escape from her trauma, and when you watch it, you will see where it led her! It’s one thing to escape and heal. It’s another to escape thinking it will help you forget. You can face the pain of your trauma while you have life, or struggle on your deathbed with the pain of realizing the life you wasted, along with the decisions you failed to make simply because you were too afraid to open your heart for healing.

Overall, I do want to say that I believe the movie to be well done. In the beginning, you may be tempted to write this off as typical, but I urge you to keep watching because it is totally not that. It’s a life lesson at the core, deceitfully encompassed in a murder mystery shell.

If you’re here after already watching, what did you think of the movie? Leave your comments below. Also, if you have watched the movie, We Need To Talk About Kevin, you should listen to my review on how the topic of this movie shows up in everyday society.

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