So, I recently watched this movie, perhaps you’ve heard of it? La La Land.
You might be asking, “How in the world can you relate the grim, dark world of Daredevil to La La Land?” Well, I’m glad you asked, my good humans, because I’m about to do it terribly. Full disclosure, I’m basically spoiling some stuff from both, so… you’ve been warned I guess?
Let’s start with Daredevil. It’s a world on fire, heh heh. Two sides, Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, duking it out in a battle that requires everything that they have.
Their two worldviews stand in direct opposition to one another, but both seek what seems like a common goal: saving the city, making it a better place.
And yet they remain incompatible. Why? Well… one wants it in their image, controlled like crazy, and the other wants it to be free of all the crooks and thugs that plague it. It’s… yeah okay, it’s kinda obvious. Drat. My bad.
Hell’s Kitchen is a mess of power, and these two opponents are… actually a mess in their own right, but that’s something I want to save for another, more focused post.
The point is, they have these goals, these dreams for their city. They’re willing to sacrifice basically everything to reach it, both walking on their own dark, individualized paths, only able to play the game a few steps ahead at a time once they figure out that there’s another player on the board.
Now, La La Land, a recent watch of mine, and something I enjoyed, even if certain naysayers *cough, an Eaglet friend, cough* despised it, was also basically all about… dreams and sacrifice. In a different way, obviously. The two main characters aren’t exactly out to wreck each other’s plans, but… well…
That’s kind of the key thing at the end of the movie: the sacrifices involved, and the choices made. No human ever knows how things are going to turn out in the end, we know this fact. It’s only after the long move has been made that we look back and say: “Oh, I could have done it this way.” but even that view may be an idealism, unrealistic, and most likely disregarding the true challenges that would have been faced had said route been taken.
Dreams however, are good, even ones involving the past. Indeed, Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia (which I’ve been working through reading with my Kenosis group/fam/whatever over at Ruah Woods) says that a family without dreams is dead. I’m paraphrasing from memory of course, because I lent the paper to another student to read, and now I don’t know where it is. The point still stands.
Dreams are important: they’re how we visualize where we want to go, whether in general or moving on from a situation – in those cases where our dreams tap into memory. It’s a balance, and it’s risky, dreaming about life. Nothing will ever go fully according to dream or plan, yet one has to willing to accept the consequences.
A year ago today, I had… a different experience of life. An hour or so from now (when I wrote these specific words, obviously), one year ago, on a cold Saturday night. Thanks Facebook memories, you’re both a blessing and a curse. Feels like a different lifetime, really; one of those dreams that you wake up from and laugh at, because it was probably impossible in reality. And yet it happened. It really did, and it was good. Even the buzzing in my ears at the end.
And that’s the thing that La La Land is real about, why I can appreciate it. At the end, when the two main characters have had their little montage of “what if they had worked it all out differently”, they just kind of look at each other. They look at each other, and then they smile. And after that smile, comes the nod, as if to say with all sincerity and love: “Well, here we are. We made our dreams reality. And isn’t that fantastic?”
The thing is, spoiler again, they’re not together. After all that time spent united, working together, loving and supporting one another, they got the premature farewell, when things were looking up for them once more. That’s why it felt more realistic. The choices they made changed where the sacrifice lay; by pursuing their individual dreams, they sacrificed their being together. And that’s not a bad thing unless you look at it from that viewpoint that they should have ended up in the expected, movie finale way.
I say no, it was a good ending, and there’s something there worth striving for: Acceptance. That’s where that “handy, if annoying at the worst of times” serenity prayer comes in. There are things we can’t change, things we have to let go, and things we can do right here, right now, standing in front of us. Dreams, if they hold us back, are a danger; dreams ignored and pushed aside are too.
The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.
– The Doctor
The point is, I try to remember the past fondly, including all those embarrassing moments I experienced. They made me who I am today, with my current dreams. So, stealing another quote from Doctor Who: “To days to come. All my love to long ago.”
Life is a complicated, ebb and flow of roads. A bunch of highways with loopbacks and dead ends, and all sort of mental mishap on the way, but hopefully there is one singular destination. Now, before they get there, some people have roads that cross multiple times. Some have the high road, and others take the low road. Some take a very long time before they cross again, as was the case with the movie, but in the end, they were able to accept what had happened. They found their peace.
As for Daredevil and me watching it… well, I have yet to reach the part where one of their dreams is fulfilled, and I’m definitely not at peace waiting for the next part of that great and yet terribly cliff-hangery series.
So, try to find peace with your present situation, even if it does feel like that part in a TV series where everything is going wrong, your favorite characters are dying, and unresolved plot after unresolved plot follows (heh). It gets better in time. There’s no clock I can reference, but it will. You just have to see it through. Like the battle for Hell’s Kitchen. It gets darker and more gruesome before the enemy’s gate is down (ah, that Ender’s Game reference).
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to “A Lovely Night” for the gazillionth time while writing a dastardly paper. I’m living in the moment, livin’ the dream. And you should too.