Lights, camera, action. The theater darkens; actors appear on screen. And then, reality sweeps away. For the next few hours, we become a part of the film. We are encapsulated in the artwork of storytelling.
In those moments, we are the heroes; we are the everyday Joes; we are the young professionals trying to find our way. There’s a reason we choose the films that we do. In some form or fashion, we connect with them.
And later, when they’re all over, we long for them not to be done. We sit in the darkness, waiting—holding our breath—reliving vicariously the scenes we’ve just seen. I’ve never felt prettier than I have walking out of a movie theater . . .
That is until I get to the car and see that big zit on my nose. Ugh!
I went to my first movie since moving to Knoxville last night. Ironically (or, not surprisingly?), I picked a movie about a girl who grew up in my hometown. She’s a high school senior who dreams of experiencing life outside her city. She hasn’t traveled much yet, but she wants to.
Throughout the film, I saw a few parallels to my own life. “Lady Bird” graduated in 2003 and went to a school in New York; I graduated in 2002 and went to a school in Tennessee. She and her mother both had strong personalities; I and my own mom are quite similar.
But what stood out to me most was a theme we often overlook in life: waiting. In the film, Lady Bird was eagerly anticipating the next phase of her life. She couldn’t wait for college; she couldn’t wait for the school year to be over. But what the story was really about was what she was doing now. Often the “in-between-changes” parts of our lives are just as important as “what comes next.” I myself often worry about the future, but the movie reminded me that today—and every day—is an important opportunity to work on myself.
Shortly before seeing “Lady Bird,” I watched a video on facebook that talked about happiness. The video claimed that we often look outwards to find happiness and life’s purpose when it should be the other way around: “You are what you love, not what loves you.” This concept came to mind on my drive home last night, and I couldn’t shake it as I contemplated this newly-highlighted idea of waiting. Although I didn’t agree fully with the video’s message (my qualms are written below), I thought the narrator made some really good points. Please check it out (and read my comments, too)!
The narrator’s thoughts / My thoughts:
We’ve been conditioned to move to a place of “what loves us,” and almost every decision we make now is based on what other people think about us.
It depends on the person.
If you’re under the impression that things outside of you complete you, you will always be a victim because everything has to change to make you happy . . . You’re moving from “out to in.”
When you were a kid, you weren’t working on managing customers or fake lists, etc., you were working on you. And that same mentality exists in people who are the greatest at what they do. They weren’t looking at their lists and how many people they got; they were working on themselves and excelling at that.
The narrator’s parallel to childhood is a bit simplistic. Kids play to learn skills they will need as adults. That’s part of life. At surface level, though, his analogy makes sense.
There’s a level of effortlessness that shows up when you enjoy the process of working on yourself. That’s the goal of life, and when you do that, the results will show up when they’re supposed to.
The goal of life is more than just working on ourselves. I feel the goal is to look at what we can do to help others. In so doing, we become the best possible versions of ourselves. That said, I really like the idea of worrying less about what others think and knowing that things will happen when they’re supposed to.
Interesting. You’ve hit on a theme in the movie that I haven’t seen anybody discuss. Waiting. Everything else I’ve read about the movie is about “the hometown” and the desire to get away and then the recognition years later that the hometown wasn’t so bad. Nostalgia. (And having spent my life in my hometown, which is the same as Lady Bird’s, I know all too well the desire to leave.)
But you’re right about the waiting. When I was a kid my dad told me to be careful not to spend my life wishing it away. It’s kind of the same thing. I have spent my life failing to enjoy the moment while waiting (or wishing for) the next part of my life. And the next part of my life I hope is one that takes me away from Sacramento. Just need to stop and smell the roses until I get there.
Thank you for this.
Lol, well I’m not sure if “waiting” is a actually a theme of the film, but it was my takeaway based on my current life experiences. And nostalgia? To me that was a very insignificant piece of the film. Every kid is going to get a little homesick when they first go off to college. Duh!
But yeah, the “in-between” piece came in for me because the film’s a bit slow and focuses almost solely on her senior year. It reminded me that what happens in our “in-between” times is significant and can impact or alter what happens next. *How* it impacts it is up to us…
I’m glad you liked this one. It took me WAY longer than it should have!
This just makes me laugh. I have the exact same thought about the whole nostalgia theme of the movie. So much of what I have read about the movie is about that theme and how everybody ultimately has nostalgia for their childhood home. As you say, “duh!” That’s exactly how I felt reading reviews of the film. But growing up and living in Sacramento, I knew I would need to see it at some point.
Whether it’s waiting or “in-between” I think you’ve hit on something that nobody else really is. And I think you’re right. Everything about her senior year was about that. The relationship with her mother, her relationship with boys, her trying out for the play. So much of it is about the “in-between” when you think about it is really what most of a life is about — the in-between moments.
By the way, I also liked your words about what we feel while we’re watching a movie. The only thing I’d add is that for people like me — who write fiction and are stuck in a massive writer’s block — well, I sit in the movie theater and imagine “if only, I could finish one of my masterpieces, my story could be up there too.”
Lol, well I’m glad we have similar thoughts on the nostalgia piece! Honestly I’d forgotten that the film was set in Sacramento when I went to see it. It definitely felt a little strange to see such familiar landmarks on screen… And haha, you make a good point about wanting to finish one of your own masterpieces. I’m sure it will happen someday, Mark. Just you wait!
I think that this is one of the biggest lessons that I have been able to settle into with the passing of time, that it’s really all about the in between time. I tend to watch my own reactions and know that I’m most likely to have the it-doesn’t-get-better-than-this thought while enjoying a coffee or tea, but it’s more than just the stimuli, which helps, but it’s taking the moment to relax and appreciate what I already have. Now I have to see the movie. Can really relate to your opening as well, when I used to live in San Ramon it was all about movies taking me to another world. Now that I’m in another world, movies are more about some decompression time.
I think you’re right that it’s all about the in-between time, Sreejit. After all, despite the busyness of our lives, it’s those in-between moments that really tie together the fabric of our lives… I hope you like the movie! Like I said above, the idea of the “in between” is something that struck me personally, not something I think the producers were necessarily trying to drive home. I’d be interested to hear what you think, though… Also, where are you these days exactly? You may have told me a while ago, but I’ve forgotten.
Right now I’m in Amritapuri, India. Actually right now I’m touring across India with Amma’s tour group working in the kitchen cooking for thousands of people that come for the programs everyday, something that usually happens January to April. But the rest of the year, I stay at her home base ashram in Amritapuri.
Well Ms. Jessica we need to get you out to see more movies…. I love your line where you say you say you never feel prettier than walking out of one. I love a movie too, whether at home or TV..Movies are my escape. Yes, worry less about what it others think and just concentrate on impressing yourself. Great post Jessica!
Thanks! And yeah, I don’t get out to movies much. Very few are worth the time (and money). I’m glad I went to this one, though.
Reading this as the Beatles “let it be” coincidentally(no such thing) plays on the radio. Everything happens in its own time and for a specific reason whether it’s evident immediately or becomes apparent later. Live life, remember experiences, and hold a door open for someone once in a while LOL.
That’s good advice, John. I’m seeing evidence of that more and more in my own life. And yes, be kind! Slow down! Let life be!
Thx Jessica. Gene and I were just talking about how it was good to live in the moment. We were watching a repeat Frasier while eating a haystack but I’ll take that “moment”. Loved Lady Bird. Saw it twice.
Nice! I’m glad you liked it. Ahhh haystacks. Gotta love ’em.