September 2, 2010

Your Life Can Be Like the Movies, Too

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Last Sunday, I asked my boyfriend to see Eat Pray Love with me after dinner. I claimed that I hadn’t watched a single chick-flick since I started dating him.

“If I watch too many chick flicks, I’ll only have unrealistic expectations about this relationship,” I reasoned.

He looked up from his food and stared at me blankly. After a long pause, he slowly opened his mouth and said, “You’re really weird.”

Well, my reasoning made perfect sense to me. Really, it only took a few weeks for me to realize that he was not going to sing me a medley on top of an elephant or tell me that I had him at hello. I figured that if I watched any more romantic films, I’d only be waiting around for him to turn into John Cusack and hold up a stereo outside of my window. We all know that would never happen. But I digress.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Eat Pray Love is a movie that is based on the best-selling memoir about a woman who travels to different parts of the world to find herself. Oprah recommended it, which clearly means that it’s awesome and inspiring and all that jazz.

But the real reason I wanted to see the movie was because some friends told me that this was basically the “story of my life.” And I figured it would be inspiring because, for the better part of my life, I have been dreaming of traveling the world and experiencing different cultures. I even bought the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die in hopes that one day I will see everything there is to see in the world. If this woman could do it, then so could I.

I’m going to spare you the details of how terrible this movie was and say that I now owe my boyfriend tickets to see The Last Exorcism. Maybe the book was better, but I don’t think I’ll ever care enough to find that out for sure. I walked out of the theater feeling insulted that my friends could ever think so poorly of me. The entire two hours of that movie was Liz wallowing in self-pity. The whole time, she was whining about this, whining about that and running away from her problems. Oh, and eating a lot of Italian food along the way.

What made it worse was not only that it was a true story, but that people actually admire her for her so-called strength and courage to leave everything behind to go to Italy, India and Bali alone. And they love the fact that she fell in love with some handsome man with a sexy accent in her quest to find herself. But they fail to realize that she hurt a lot of people along the way, but somehow, everyone is OK with that.

My point, however, is not to review this movie, but to ask: What do we do if we don’t have the luxury, like our dear Liz did, to run away from our problems for a year? You would think that after going to a third-world country, Liz would put her life into perspective. But no, she continued whining and whining and whining some more. In short, she was incredibly self-absorbed.

At first, I wanted to write a scathing article letting everyone know how much I hated that movie and what a waste of time it was. But after a bit more thought and consideration, I realized that we are all really self-absorbed. We’ve all made the same mistakes Liz had — it’s just never been shown on the big screen. And I think it’s pretty safe to say that if we did have the luxury like our dear Liz had, we would also run away from our problems. In fact, I was in the same mindset last semester, when I felt that my life was in a rut.

I wanted something new and exciting. I spent most of my time absent-mindedly flipping through 1000 Places to See Before You Die, thinking that I would give anything to be anywhere but here. I wanted an adventure, and I grew frustrated with the people around me who didn’t seem to understand that there just had to be more to my life than Cornell. So in a sense, my friends were right — I was like Liz. I made the exact same mistakes she did because I was so caught up with the idea of an escape that I failed to see that there were constant adventures with the people around me.

In places like Cornell, where stress levels are always at an all-time high, it’s hard to be completely honest with yourself and face your problems. And you might also feel like you need to get away from it all. I know this is easier said than done, but if you are feeling this way, try to put your life into perspective. Realize that you have a lifetime to do anything you want and that you are not constrained by your location. An adventure is always around the corner — you just have to open your eyes and actually look for it.

I can’t say it any better than this: “… If we get to know even the most ordinary-looking persons on the street, we’ll learn that they have fascinating stories to tell. Each man’s and woman’s life could be an opera, if only we took the time to discover more about them — where they were born, what they did while growing up, what makes them tick, what their dreams and wishes are, and more.” (The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words)

And of course, accept the fact that your boyfriend can never be as romantic as Mr. Darcy.

Sandie Cheng is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at scheng@cornellsun.com. That One, Please appears alternate Fridays this semester.

Original Author: Sandie Cheng