Delusional.

That’s what I think of the movie La La Land, starred by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. If you have watched the movie, you’ll see my point. If you haven’t, please do (and then you can start re-reading from “Delusional…”).

Yet, I love it. I love it, mainly, not because of the lovely scene and surreal settings, but because I feel that the story hits home. Just like a soap opera, this musical magnifies our (mostly) ordinary life events to the extreme.

How many of us want to be an actress or a musician? Probably, not all of us aspire to become one, and maybe some of us are even still looking for that thing—the life we know we’ll love till the Death comes. By bringing events to the extreme, the movie nudges us (almost subtly) to see what little aspects of our life we might be ignoring at the moment, ones that drift us farther apart from our thing—our purpose.

When we are to choose the path to walk through, how do we choose? Are we like Sebastian of La La Land—that broke Jazz musician who chose to work, in a gig he doesn’t love, so that he can save up for his dream? While that may seems like a good idea, it has its curse.

As Sebastian began to live his newfound gig—by numbing his feelings—he started to lose his purpose. In real life, it’ll be like a young banker who took his first job, out of economy school, thinking to pay his study debt, who then keep on working in the banks as he’s now accustomed to his current living style. On one occasion, he said, “Maybe this is the best for me. This should happen for a reason.” Well, maybe. Maybe his dream of being involved first hand in social setting was never a real thing to begin with.

Another example, by Clayton M. Christensen in How Will Your Measure Your Life (and also his paid post in Harvard Business Review), is about how Honda entered the bike market in US: after failing to materialise its original plan to fight with the likes of Harley-Davidson, it realised that it might do better by changing its target audience and sold product — its success was enabled because Honda seized the unanticipated opportunity.

Saying yes to the opportunities that emerge before us might be a good thing, as it turned out so for Honda, but—unfortunately, there is always a ‘but’—we should do so remembering:

  • Will this new opportunity bring me closer to my goal? (Honda’s did, for its market share)
  • And, if we drift apart: Why do I dreamt that dream I have in the first place? and Does it still rings true now?

These are hard questions. Sebastian rationalised that his job was what his lover wanted for him, so he passed the blame to his lover. We might be doing so unknowingly, clouded by those external noise and / or our losing our faith in ourselves. When we encounter this, take time to stop and be still.

I’d close with a suggestion—almost an urge—for us to listen to the song: Audition (The Fools who Dream), and take what we can. Dreamers might seem foolish, they might fail and ache, but given the chance to go back to past, they’ll pursue their dream all over again (most possibly with new ways of doing).

Leapt, without looking, and tumbled into the Seine. The water was freezing, she spent a month sneezing. But said she would do it again. Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem. Here’s to the hearts that ache, here’s to the mess we make. — Audition (The Fools who Dream), La La Land

—End of Part 1


If this story happens to resonate with you, do share with your friends / colleagues that you think will find this useful. Comments are very much appreciated.

This post is also uploaded on my LinkedIn.

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One thought on “Real Life La La Land: From Sebastian To The Fools Who Dream(ed)

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