As someone who is planning on pursuing a career in the arts, La La Land really hit home for me when I saw it a few weeks ago. Then a few days ago, I read this article by Jennifer Trafton, and I realized all over again just how much the movie meant.
It stars two young artists in Los Angeles- Sebastian, a jazz pianist, and Mia, an actress. Their passion and uncontrollable love for the arts is obvious from the beginning. They are brave enough to dream, stubborn enough to fight for their dreams, and strong enough to let some of those dreams go.
Artists are dreamers. They are makers. They have thriving imaginations, aching hearts, vivid colors swirling through their minds, and countless stories hidden just beneath their skin. Out of necessity, they are also fighters. The battle to turn dreams into reality is not an easy one. Mia and Sebastian realize that this battle brings frustration and failure. They must repeatedly ask themselves, “Is this fight worth it?”
Because the battles also require sacrifice.
In this broken world, we cannot have all we hope for. Sometimes, our dreams lead us to a fork in the road, and we have to choose a path. For the young artist, the choice can be between either creativity or money, career or relationship, originality or acceptance. The list goes on and on.
I am currently in the process of choosing a school to attend in the fall. A year or two ago, when I first started the terrifying College Search, I had a hazy, glorified vision of my school. I looked for schools that fit with this vision, and soon realized that I would never find an exact match- such a school does not exist. Now I am faced with five schools, all of which can offer me a wonderful education for my next four years. But I must choose only one. At some, I would be sacrificing my dream academic environment. At some, I would have to give up the community I want.
And I have to choose.
We make our choices- life demands that we do so. Some are easy, some are almost too hard to bear. We carry on as we must. If we are making our choices for the right reasons, the path we ultimately choose leads us to beautiful new heights; it is a good path.
But artists are dreamers. We will always wonder what might have been, had we taken the other road. We still look back wistfully on the road not taken, with a melancholy smile, wondering where it might have led us.
Does the inevitable sacrifice of some dreams make it useless to dream at all? Of course not. Dreams are what motivate us. They give us goals to ceaselessly work toward. They push us to realize our full potential. In short, dreams give us life.
In the end, however, we must remember that they are still just dreams. La La Land is so powerful because it slams its viewers with the painful truth that Sebastian and Mia cannot end up with both the dream career and one another. That is reality. Had they ended up with both dreams fulfilled, the movie would have been just another fairy tale movie that is too good to be true. Instead, we were bluntly reminded that we have to make choices.
And how should we go about making those choices? Is regret avoidable?
As we wrestle with choices, we must remember to keep our moral compasses pointed straight. It is easy to be lured away by our surroundings, but keeping our eyes looking due north ensures that our decisions are good ones. This often leads us to make decisions that the world considers foolish, to give up dreams that others would have killed for, or to choose the straight and narrow path rather than the wide, winding way.