Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This movie gave me way too much to say.

I just finished watching the movie "Julie & Julia", after about a hundred recommendations from friends and loved ones ("It'll make you want to write a book!" "It'll make you want to eat a stick of butter!" "It'll make you want to move in with Meryl Streep and copy everything she does!"), and it is indeed very good, and if you haven't seen it yet, you should, even if you're a movie snob like me who usually stays away from popular films that aren't focused on death or post-apocalyptic slow-moving doom.

We all know that sometimes we read into things. In every experience, be it a painting, a hike, a conversation, or anything, someone can take from it a lesson or a message that may never have been the creator's original intent. And as I watched this movie, I kept seeing how much of both of these women's lives were, in a sense, about starts and stops.

Julia Child married late, faced opposition and negativity when she first entered cooking school, and had her landmark cookbook delayed and delayed and then rejected. By the time it was published, she was nearly 50 years old.

Julie Powell, the movie's other protagonist, is about to turn 30 before she launches the blog, and though she is happily married, she has an unfulfilling job and a less-than-ideal apartment, and is constantly comparing herself to her ridiculously successful friends.

I don't have friends who are senior vice presidents, and none of my friends have personal assistants (although, if they're hiring...). But for the most part, my friends and I are all circling that dreaded 30... some of us closer in than others. And for the most part, I think they would all agree that the age of 30 is not what it was when our parents reached it. Whether it's the new 20 or not... that's another blog.

I do know that many of my friends, as they approach and surpass the 30 mark, feel an immense pressure from any number of sources. Lord knows we all can pressure ourselves enough as it is, minds racing with "what if"' scenarios until fear renders us virtually catatonic. We can give it any number of names or attachments (career, spouse, house, kids), but it's basically a pressure for successful stability. I have seen so many friends (and even myself at times) marching through each year as though there is a gun to their heads, so great is the pressure, and what could rob someone of more joy?

I don't mean to paint Julia Child as a saint (as the Julie of the movie does), but seeing her story, however fictionalized, it reminded me that there really is no point of no return. Jobs come and go or stay, relationships fade, explode or remain, and even the people we count on as our basic support systems will disappear or let us down.

There is hope.

It sounds cliche' to use the "everything is an opportunity" bit for the millionth time, but really, it's true. There won't ever be a time in my life, regardless of how old I get, when every door is closed forever. Things will almost certainly not work out as I had envisioned them (they already haven't, on a small scale), but they will eventually work out. The right things will come at the right time, and who's to say when that time will be? People publish novels (or cookbooks) after years of waiting and strings of bizarre jobs. People find love at every point in life. People discover redemption in the most unlikely of places and at the most unlikely of times.

I know this is true for me, and I'm going to venture to say that it's true for you.

A friend of mine, who is just past thirty, single, and contemplating some new changes in her life, said recently (and this is a very loose quote, so be nice to me, and her), "You know, it's possible that I could be 40 and single, or that life won't play out as I would like, but I know that I can take today for what it is, and say, 'Today, I have what I need, and today I am loved'. And if you can say that every day, then no matter what, you're doing pretty well."

And so, we don't sit on our hands and lament. We wake in the morning, we pursue what we love in at least small ways, and then we do what's next, not knowing what exactly will come of it. But today, you and I have what we need, and you and I are loved. And believe it or not, that's a stable place to be.


  1. I love this. Also you. And whoever said that last thing.

  2. I have repeatedly offered to hire you as an assistant, for the record. You, however, have spurned my job offers with prejudice.