Friday, July 1, 2011

Midnight in Paris

A few days ago, I saw what will now be one of my favorite movies, Midnight in Paris. I had very high hopes going in to the movie already because of the top notch cast and the fact that it was written and directed by Woody Allen. Then one of my friends said that it was mainly based in 1920's Paris. That was pretty much when it was all over for me. I knew I had to see it as soon as humanly possible.

So I meandered down to my lovely local art theater to see the late night showing. It was everything that I'd hoped it would be...and more...a LOT more.

I don't want to give too much away, but I think it's pretty much known that Owen Wilson's character, Gill, manages to time travel back to Paris in the 1920's, which is pretty much his dream (and mine, as well). He believed that Paris in the 20's would have been the greatest time and place to live in. But once he is there, he finds that the people living during that time lust after an earlier time as well. They are bored and unsatisfied with their "modern" lifestyle. He tries to point out all the wonderful, magical things from their time that so bewitched him. But to them, they seem commonplace and not really special at all.

It is at that moment that Gill realizes that no matter what time period people are in, they will almost always yearn for an earlier time and believe that times were better in another time period.

This realization lead to me having some major realizations of my own. I, like Gill, have always found myself fascinated by the past. I have firmly believed for quite some time now that, "Oh, if only I lived during (insert pretty much any time period other than the present), I'd be so much happier." I found myself criticizing and ridiculing our unromantic, plain, fast-paced society and always comparing it to the great societies that came before ours.

But after watching this movie, I realized that I was doing exactly what people in the past had done! It is beyond my comprehension how someone living in the 20's could not see how fabulous everything was and want to live in any other time. But, you know, it seemed just ordinary and common to them, just like how modern society feels to me today. But I can only imagine how people who lived through the 20's must have felt in the...say 1970's? Talk about culture shock...I mean, I can't speak for any person specifically, but I'm sure many of them lusted for the past and wished they had enjoyed it more while things were the way they were.

For some reason, the future isn't beautiful and intriguing to me. I feel like we can only go down from here...pretty pessimistic, I know :/ So that's why I cling to the past so much. But in my obsessive clinging to the past, I have completely neglected the present.

I walked out of that theater with what felt like a brand new set of eyes. I looked at every single thing I passed--the metal trash can, the old lamp post, the stop lights, the big cement plant holders, the quirky old diner-- and I saw beauty in them for the first time...ever, really. No, they aren't really "beautiful" by my usual definition of beautiful. The old lamp post wouldn't ever be in the Louvre by any means. But for some reason, it just looked so charming to me.

I started imagining how things would begin to look in thirty, fifty, seventy years. And although I won't really know for sure until I get to that point, I can imagine how things COULD look. And they will most likely be much different than they are now. And who knows, in fifty years, that old lamp might be replaced by some plain, steel lamp and I might think, "Wow. I actually really miss that old lamp post."

So now, I have taken a vow. I have vowed to love and cherish the present, to find beauty in things I wouldn't normally consider beautiful, and to create as much beauty around me as humanly possible. Because I refuse to look back on my life in seventy years with and regret or remorse over not relishing this time as much as I should have.

To conclude, I will just urge you to do the same :) The present will be the past sooner than you can imagine.

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