La La Land. I told Maile as we walked out of the theater that I had tears in my eyes throughout the movie because the various parts about trying to make it as a creative person hit too close to home.
There’s a part where Mia and Sebastian, two young folks trying to chase down their dreams in Los Angeles, are having it out. He has just delivered the news to her that she got a call back for a rehearsal and they really want to see her. This could be her big break.
But she’s failed too many times in the past. She’s tells him she’s finished.
* * * * *
Mia: Maybe I’m not good enough.
Sebastian: You are.
Mia: Maybe I’m not.
Mia: I don’t want to do it anymore.
Mia: Because I think maybe it hurts just a bit too much.
* * * * *
Oh, man, that’s it, isn’t it? We have these things we want to do, things that are connected to the deepest parts of ourselves, but we’ve tried so many times, and nothing has hit the mark. We try and try again, and each time it feels like a crap shoot, the toss of the dice. We think we know what we want to be, we think we know where we want to be, and it all seems so impossibly far away.
I started chasing my dream of being a writer seven years ago. And I’ve made a living at it these long seven years. But there’s always something out there, something just beyond my reach. I remember standing at that kitchen island in Virginia, telling Maile we didn’t have enough money to get through the winter. I remember the two of us unpacking our things into my parents’ basement. I remember all the various contracts that fell through or didn’t happen, for whatever reason. The rejection emails from agents and editors and the low traffic at the blog, no matter how hard I tried.
There are a million and one reasons to quit, and they come at us fast. The disappointment hurts. The sense, not that people hate what you’re creating, but that they honestly couldn’t care less.
The ache I felt in the movie, the ache that resonated with me, had nothing to do with what Mia and Sebastion did or did not manage to do by the end of the movie (no spoilers here, at least not on purpose). The ache I felt was in response to this knowledge that there are things we are meant to do, no matter what road they lead to.
Does that make sense?
I truly believe I’m meant to live this life as a writer, and that will stay true for all the years I live on this planet, whether I have a New York Times bestseller or simply continue on writing books that handfuls of people read. And that’s the ache, the oh-so-sweet ache: this is my life. I’m living it. It is neither more nor less than what it is.
Can that be enough? That’s the question. Can this life I’m living be enough?
* * * * *
Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make
– “The Fools Who Dream,” La La Land