When I was teaching second grade in Manhattan Beach, my students would write Weekend Wonder books every Monday. On the first few attempts in September, before we talked about alternative ways to express ideas, 95% of the students would write somewhere, “It was fun.”
It used to drive me nuts. Fun? Can’t we be just a wee bit more creative, people? But the older I get, the more I’m okay with it. It’s clear. It’s to the point. It’s the key to living a healthy lifestyle. It’s a fine word.
It’s also one of my core values. If I’m not having fun, I’m not doing it right. I need to modify, reinvent, make changes–and nothing motivates me faster. This was the theme of a movie my husband and I saw last night on date night called, “Begin Again.” We see movies (lots of them) frequently, both at home and in the theaters. I love foreign films, pop films, documentaries nobody’s ever heard of, pretty much any genre. Comparatively, this one struck me as darn near perfect.
I ask myself why and I’m pretty sure this is the answer: the film looks at creative energy in all its stages, and keeps bringing the viewer back to where the fun begins. Is it in the fame? Is it in adapting to what others want and responding to (for the sake of the ego) that demand? Or is it in the joy of the medium outside the demands of status quo for the medium’s sake?
In the case of this film, the medium is music. One character played by Adam Levine (who looks just plain silly in a big beard–the classic line was “he acts like he’s just too busy on the road to shave it”) sells out. You watch his happy monitor drop as he becomes dependent on (addicted to?) the attention of the audience (amongst other things) and loses his core values to his own detriment. His idea of fun warps.
Concurrently, you see his estranged girlfriend played by Keira Knightly, who asks the question over and over: “Isn’t it about the music? Who cares what people think?” She teams up with a washed-up record producer and alcoholic played by Mark Ruffalo (who just may get a nomination for this one) and together they rediscover what fun is by reinventing themselves and thinking outside the box.
Yep. I know. It’s a movie. But it captures an essential truth. That is, it’s really hard to live a full and healthy life if you’re not having fun.