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

la_la_land_ver3.jpeg[7 minute read]

Before La La Land sweeps the Oscars this weekend*, I find it apropos to highlight its timeless theme which fills our dry well of dreams. Sounds depressing, doesn’t it?  That’s because that thought  IS depressing.  La La Land shows us that it doesn’t have to be that way. La La Land is the glorious wake-up call to all of us to reignite the heartwarming and juicy dreams that we are allowing to dry up and atrophy while they lie dormant deep within us. Not a pretty picture. La La Land is the tough love arm grab.  That call our soul is making to our heart that we mistake for an annoying butt dial and then dismiss and silence? Well, here’s how THAT goes down…

That ping of jealousy. That bristle of frustration. That ache of longing. 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 a billion dollar anti-anxiety and anti-depression pharmaceutical industry.

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, Henry Winkler, don’t worry Millenials, I got you, aka the actor who played The Fonz in Happy Days, created this catchphrase to hide his undiagnosed dyslexia. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think? A little too ironic and, yeah, I really do think…) Okay, back on track. Back on track.  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 being wrong. (This is MY dance space and 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 actually put in an effort. Oh boy! We’re really 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, dancing or Tetris?  When did we become a society that turns our noses up at those who really 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 mountain top possible. Let’s vow for stick-with-it-ness to stick once and for all.

Our culture of scarcity is total, for lack of a better term, 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 feelings that we’re undeserving and need proof that we’re good enough to make our dreams our reality.

“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: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success

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?  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 that your initial act of courage will 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. Although it won’t because once you give your spark attention then it gradually turns into a flame. Then, people can’t help but notice the lightness in 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 or cheesy, lame, offensive or sensitive. Take your pick. 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. If you really go worst case scenario on this one, I’m putting all my chips on: you’re wrong. There I said it. You’re wrong. It may not sit well but there it is just the same. Now you may be cast aside from people. For sure. As the old saying (kinda) goes: If you didn’t see darkness then how would you know when you found the light? If there was no darkness then there would be no stars. If there was 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 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 will realize who closest to you will stick around and who will peace out. It’s like taking a sieve through all of your nearest and dearest to see who are the gems who stay close and support you 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, claim that you’ve lost it, or that you’re going off the deep-end, then print out my all time favorite lyric from La La Land’s “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and stick it somewhere you’ll see it every damn day!

_A bit of madness is keyTo give us new colors to seeWho knows where it will lead us_And that's why they need us_So bring on the rebelsThe ripples from pebblesThe painters, and poets, and playsAnd here's to the fool-1.png


*Well, except for our stud man, Ryan, he won’t be winning a gold statue but he will be winning over our hearts as he humbly supports our glowing girl, Emma.


La La Land (2016, dir. Damian Chazelle) A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.  

Mia: Maybe I’m not good enough!

Sebastian: Yes, you are.

Mia: Maybe I’m not! It’s like a pipe dream.

Sebastian: This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting!

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