The John Lewis Christmas advert is out. The man on the moon. Its intent is to highlight the loneliness of many old people at Christmas and to champion the concept of giving.
But the scientists, the cynics, the ‘ne’er be happies’, the journalists are already criticising the story. In the Guardian the other day, an article entitled “Who is moon Hitler?” appeared. How can a girl have a telescope that magnifies the moon so well? What is a man doing on the moon in a shack? Is he a banished criminal? How can he breathe? Balloons could not carry a gift to the moon, don’t people understand the physics?…
I wonder, have we lost the magic of metaphor? Where have the dreams gone? Does humankind not draw inspiration from the improbable any more? How do we progress without imagination? Where on our journey did we lose that childhood gift?
I have been with a number of people who, on seeing the advert, have shed a tear. Of course they have. As I was discussing here the other day, meaning making is an inherent human need and this beautiful piece of cinematic art gives us meaning. It connects us to our emotions. It reminds us of family, of loved ones, of Christmas, of being alone and of loneliness. That creates meaning for us.
John Lewis is being commercial, naturally. The advert is not entirely altruistic. But its association with Age UK is intended to highlight the number of people, particularly old people, who will feel loneliness this Christmas. A worthy human cause.
Notwithstanding the commerciality, the charitable intent and the human story though. Surely, even in a commercial, money driven world, there is space in our humanity still for hope, for imagination, for a wonder delivered through the magic of metaphor? If not, then as human beings we have fallen far.
We should look to our children, where magic and wonder still thrive. Where story and metaphor is still rich and wondrous, filled with meaning. Where experimentation and imagination fuel learning and growth. As adults we would do well to reconnect with the child in us.
Otherwise, where has the magic gone?