I la la loved the movie La La Land because how it true it felt to la la life (That was the last “la-la” I promise). The movie was filmed beautifully, the music was great, singing was fun, and it told the best story of any movie I have seen in over a year. But more than anything I loved how the movie made me feel.
It is a movie that made me feel strongly. I sat in my hunched over intently concentrating position that I sit in when I really get into a movie, for over 40 minutes. I loved the portrayal of love. I love the pull and push among the characters as they challenged one another towards their dreams. I loved their love for one another. There was so much I loved about it, though the characters relationship lacked so much, particularly external clarity as to how their relationship was perceived by others, hence the la la nature of their love.
The movie fully immerses the audience into the relationship of the two main characters without including any other characters weighing in on their relationship. It is an isolated romance which makes it all the more painful when the movie ends with an undesirable resolution. In some ways it is smart, pointing to the ideal of pursuing a dream over a person, while giving insight into what could have been. And it is the “what could have been” moment that would have delivered tears had I not been conditioned to the ending. Conditioned to what… I think conditioned to coping.
There is a moment, at the end, in which, from a distance the main characters exchange a smile and nod, no words, just a knowing. My mother, who I did not see the movie with, suggested that the smile was the resolution of souls that recognize things still worked out well, perhaps even for the best for one another.
And that mutual smile is admirable, yet I often wonder to myself, is it attainable? Was the “what could have been” moment for the audience or do the characters have those same vivid imaginings of the love that could have been shared within the fulfillment of their dreams? And if the characters have it, how do they come to terms with it?
The movie moved me to ask more questions, but the one I hang on is: How can I smile at the “what could have been,” while smiling in the present, while remaining optimistic about the potential for vibrant love to fill my heart into the future? Or simply: How do I be okay with today in light of yesterday? Some people are just better at moving on honestly, and one would think for someone who moves as much as I have that I’d be good at moving on too.
But I’m not. I’m a holder, I’ve always been a holder, and based on many articles and reflections I realized that if I am going to hold I must hold loosely. Nothing is mine to hold onto, not even my dreams, nothing is mine to fight for, perhaps to trust for, but not to fight for. We like to use the phrase fight for, but it’s a poor phrase because if you have to fight for a gift, it probably wasn’t your gift to begin with. And if you think you have to fight to keep your gift, you’re probably holding on too tight.
That also is my previous conditioning, holding on too tight. I’ve always been afraid that I will lose something,
probably why I eat fast,
probably why I write small, so no one else can read it, or write vague in my journal so no one else will read it,
probably why I unintentionally give off a dishonest first impression,
probably why I don’t care much about “stuff” or don’t buy expensive things,
probably why I give so much money away,
probably why I put so little effort into pleasantries,
probably why I show up on time or early, and often,
probably why I hate being alone,
probably why I hate being in large crowds,
probably why I hate shopping
probably why I live so often in my head or imagination,
probably why I want too much to have a family
probably why I la la love to la la live in la la land
But if you read this far, I can afford to be even more honest, I still radically believe that real life with God is unimaginably better than my imagination, than a movie, than our heart breaks and aches, and I believe you are worth sharing that with. I believe in Christ we have gained far more than we’ve lost. And I’ll believe we will find that we will overflow with joy.