How A Movie Helped Me Keep Going
My son wants me to teach him how to play the piano, and this has given me some anxiety. I grew up playing the piano and really loved it. But my skills have lapsed, and I never imagined teaching anyone. But I taught him the song “Heart and Soul”, and he picked it right up. We play it as a duet, which is a thrill. When he remembered the whole song perfectly after being away from the piano for six weeks this summer, I thought, “okay, maybe I really should try to do this.”
I’ve been trying to sit down and play again so that I can shake the rust off before trying to teach him. Toward that end, I sat down at the piano more seriously for the first time in months this week. I went back through the songs I’ve been working on in the past few years (with large gaps in between). A few of them were from the La La Land Soundtrack. After slowly eeking out the songs on the piano, I turned the soundtrack to the movie on.
Immediately I felt rushed back in time. To just after the 2016 election when the world seemed completely confusing to me. I saw the movie three times in the theater during that time, and it became a life raft for me. I’d sit in the theater and cry. Especially during the scene where Emma Stone’s character auditions in a dark room for an acting part singing a song called “Here’s to the Fools Who Dream.”
The song is about following one’s dreams and about the power of art. It mirrors Emma’s character’s own struggle, as she has wanted to act, but her efforts have gotten no traction. It talks about the character’s aunt who moved to Paris and would recount her tales of living an eccentric, artistic life.
A bit of madness is key
To give us new colors to see
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us.
So bring on the rebels
The ripples from pebbles
The painters, and poets, and plays.
And here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make.
Those words spoke to me in that dark theater, with what felt like a broken heart and a huge country-wide mess around me. They told me to keep going. They told me to reach further toward my own art.
At the time, I had been a fashion blogger for five years. I enjoyed it— fashion has brought me joy and been a passion of mine for a long time. But I’d wanted to write more, and the audience of the fashion blog didn’t seem to love it when I wrote longer (non-fashion-related) pieces. I had struggled for some time trying to figure out how to do both and was starting to realize that I couldn’t really. I had to pick one and really put everything I had into it.
That was how this blog was born. How I began writing my book, Beacon and Joy, which I am now two hundred pages into. And how I kept going during a time that felt dark and confusing to me.
I love how hearing the music from La La Land can bring me back to that place. It reminds me of the power of art. The power of music and of following one’s dreams.
I am grateful that that movie came out when it did. I am grateful that its messages spoke so powerfully to me and sent me down a new path. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. But I’d also love to know— what keeps you going during hard times? What has inspired you when you needed it?