What La La Land Really Teaches Us (Besides Ryan Gosling Being Hotter Than Humanly Possible)

7 minute read

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Ah, La La Land. Its timeless theme filling our dry well of dreams. Sound depressing? Well, La La Land shows us that it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s the glorious wake-up call to all of us to reignite the heartwarming and juicy dreams that we are allowing to wither away and atrophy while they lie dormant deep within us. La La Land is the “snap out of it” slap to the face. That call our soul is making to our heart that we mistake for an annoying butt dial and then red button? Well, here’s how THAT goes down…

That ping of jealousy. That bristle of frustration. That ache of longing. They grow like weeds. Those are all little nudges to your dream to WAKE UP and stop hitting SNOOZE and answer the damn call! The alternative is not that it goes away. No, no, no. Instead, it manifests into dis-ease and bloats a billion or two more dollars into Big Pharma.

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“People love what other people are passionate about.”
– La La Land

The beauty of La La Land is that it shows rejection and frustration and grit and determination.  It’s real and honest, and yes, the dance numbers keep the hope alive! The singing voices and dance moves are not off the charts incredible (although sweet and lovely) and that’s what makes the movie so endearing and charming. It’s relatable and makes it…possible! It’s a push to open your eyes to what you can do when you mix passion with perseverance. These old standbys aren’t fan favorites because:

a) Passion makes us vulnerable. And vulnerability in our culture is a sure fire way to get your “cool card” revoked faster than you can say “Aaaaay”. (Ironically, the Fonz created this catchphrase to hide his undiagnosed dyslexia.) We like seeing other people be passionate but, ask us to do it? Eh, not so much. Passion risks us looking out of control and like fools. Passion has us dancing in way too close quarters with a leap of faith. We warn it, “This is my dance space. This is your dance space. I don’t go into yours; you don’t go into mine.”

b) Perseverance uncovers your normalcy. You’re really NOT a golden god?? Wha?? Perseverance is loved by some and feared by many. It shows your true character. Your level of resiliency. How you deal with failure…and success. What are your metrics for each? God forbid we put in an effort. Oh boy! We’re hanging out our dirty undies now, aren’t we? What if we’re found out that we’re not naturally talented at writing, baseball, public speaking, math, business, or dancing?  When did we become a society that turns our noses up at those who shine at what they do AND put in the effort? Those who solve problems AND are ferocious readers on the subject matter? Those who seem to have it all together AND are making sacrifices to live their life on their terms? We need to show and broadcast our effort from every rooftop and mountaintop possible. Let’s vow for stick-with-it-ness to stick once and for all.

Our culture of scarcity is total ass-backward. We need more effort shown. We need more collaboration. We need more brave souls putting their dreams into the world. We need less fear and way waaaay less consumption, of anything and everything, to quiet our inner desires.

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“Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming. They’d rather show the highlight of what they’ve become.”

– Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Just for fun, let’s go down the treacherous road of no dreams. No hope. No desires. No passions. It’s cold, gray and bitter. All of the role models that you admired as a kid are non-existent. The musicians, writers, and leaders? Nope. Zilch. Done. Eleanor Roosevelt? Gilda Radner? Huh, who? Martin Luther King Jr.? Ella Fitzgerald? Benjamin Franklin? Led Zeppelin? Lucille Ball? Mel Brooks? Nelson Mandela? Nelson…Nelson. I think he dated my cousin. They’re just names. No dreams, no inspiration. That just sucks the life right out of you, doesn’t it?

Even on our darkest days, the glimmer of hope that comes from pursuing our dreams and making a little more room for them on our list of priorities is a huge step in the right direction. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture of anything. No one even needs to know…at first. Eventually, yes TELL US! Please tell us. We all need to learn from the brave at heart and gain courage from knowing others’ stories of overcoming adversity and stepping out into the sunlight even when we feel dirty, weak and dark.

There are a gazillion people in the world, so you have to have faith that the odds are in your favor to ignite a spark in at least a dozen. 12 people out of 7,000,000,000. That’s pretty great. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe it will just keep your spark going. Good enough, man. Then, people can’t help but notice the lightness of your being. The glow in your eyes. It’s like falling in love all over again. It’s contagious. And no, not everyone will like what you’re doing or what you have to say.

“I’m going to do my best. I don’t know if anyone will like it and it’s absolutely none of my business if they do.”
– Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

They won’t relate to it, or they’ll think you’re “too” entitled or full of shit or smug, cheesy, lame, offensive, sensitive, or just straight up suck. Take your pick. Still, not your business. You being true to who you are is your 9 to 5. We don’t have to like everything that everyone puts out. If we did? Ugh! That’s just as bad as a depressing world. Everyone likes all the same stuff? Goodbye, art. Goodbye, authenticity. Goodbye, freak flags. Adios. Catch ya on the flip side. Or not. Really. No side. We will be catching you on no side because when everyone likes all the same stuff, then there is no flip side. The only flip side is the danger zone. The only flip side is the other side of the tracks where the trailblazers and creatives and cuckoo birds live in little yurts in the shadows.

We become: “The Other.”

Our main fear of not going for our dreams is that we will be outcast. Found out. Cast aside. Sitting alone with our volley ball, Wilson. But, if you really go worst case scenario on this one, I’m putting all my chips on: you’re wrong.  For sure. As the saying goes: If you didn’t see darkness then how would you know when you found the light? If there were no darkness, then there would be no late night sweaty and unhinged Sauvignon Blanc dance parties in your kitchen.  And we all know THAT can’t happen!

We need YOU! We need your humor. We need your perspective. We need your take on life. We need you to share what makes you laugh and cry and jump for freaking joy! Not to name call but you’re being kiiiiiindof a selfish punk if you keep this all to yourself. We are in des-per-ate need for people to share their stories and their true selves in any way that speaks to them so it can speak to us. This is the united link that transcends everything to connect and bring us together instead of keeping us in this divisive state of confusion and rigidity.

The best and yes, absolute scariest, part is that once you stick your toes in showing who you are to the world, you instantly see who sticks around and who peaces out. It’s like taking a sieve through all of your nearest and dearest to see who are the rock solid gems and who are swept away by the current of jealousy and judgment.  It’s totally worth it!

And you know what? If they call you crazy just print out my all-time favorite lyrics from La La Land’s “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and stick it somewhere you’ll see every damn day!

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La La Land (2016, Director & Writer: Damien Chazelle) While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future.

Mia: It’s pretty strange that we keep running into each other.

Sebastian: Maybe it means something.

Mia: I doubt it.

Sebastian: Yeah, I didn’t think so.

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