Competition Submission – Gratitude


Still from the film La La Land Photo courtesy of Google images

Parker Inglis

As someone who often likes to romanticize some of the most mundane things in life, I sometimes get a little too caught up in my imagination. While, at times, this can be my Achilles’ heel, it is also my greatest strength. I have found that living life is all about finding a balance between being realistic and trying to achieve my seemingly impossible goals. The film La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle, encapsulates a similar feeling of this internal struggle between living in reality and fantasy. 

La La Land follows Mia, a young struggling actress, and Sebastian, a struggling jazz musician, who fall in love as they both try to follow their different dreams. Though the pair encourage each other’s wildest dreams throughout their relationship, in time, their fantasy ends as the two grow apart. The final scenes of the film include a fantastical music and dance sequence portraying what their life could have been had the pair stayed together, romanticizing the “what ifs” in life. The sequence depicts Mia and Sebastian in a house, smiling as their two small children run and play. Then, the illusion fades, and we enter a scene where the pair spot each other in Sebastian’s jazz club years after separating. They sit across the room from each other, having lived separate lives.

When I first saw this film, I was heartbroken and angry that Mia and Sebastian did not end up together. The second time I saw the film, I grew an appreciation for the bittersweet ending. By the third time, I finally felt I understood why the film had impacted me to such a great extent; it taught me that life is not perfect, and that if I have a dream, fate will not be the thing that makes my dreams come true. Rather, it will be my hard work and dedication. 

Ever since I was young I have had a big imagination. I have dreamt up careers where I write and direct my own films or become a big-time fashion designer. However, as I have gotten older, people around me have told me that I need to be more realistic with my dreams. This has not deterred me from making steps toward accomplishing my dreams.

If I believe that I will never be able to make a movie, then I will never make a movie. If Mia had stopped attending auditions because she thought she couldn’t be a successful actress, she would have never landed the role that kickstarted her acting career. As I learned from La La Land and have seen time and time again in my own life, with enough hard work and persistence, even the most unimaginable ambitions can come true. The once detrimental romanticism of my dreams has now become what drives me.