Living Like Lester Burnham Killed My Optimism For the Better
Start writing a post
Sports

Living Like Lester Burnham Killed My Optimism For the Better

"Look Closer"

120
Living Like Lester Burnham Killed My Optimism For the Better
Pexels

Ninth grade: I lost my identity by watching a movie.

To clarify, I lost it the second time I watched this movie.

In every connotation of the phrase, I am my father's daughter. My father raised me into quite the movie buff. Bonding with Ken is watching movies. My father and I share an innate form of conversation when talking about cinema that only a father and daughter can possess. My eye for films is his eye. So, when one suggested a movie, we always came out the other end of the credits fully appreciating the other’s pick. It was our way.

So one familial night, as I flopped down into my movie-watching-spot on the couch, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I, Lauren 1.0, sat completely unaware of the inevitable change that was about to be awoken in me as I drank in the opening lines of the film that made me “me.”

“My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This… is my life. I’m forty-two years old. In less than a year, I’ll be dead.”

Just like that, six sentences set my creation's history in motion.

These are the opening lines of my beloved “American Beauty.” Now unbeknownst to me at the time was the power that such text would hold over my life in the coming years. In those few hours sat on the couch, however, no change was brought about just yet. No, as the minutes of the lead character Lester Burnham's life wore on, the only response to the film brought about in me was anger.

Watch this movie. The selfishness of the society that surrounds the Lester and their disgusting greed to steal any joy away from those who succeed in escaping that societal suffocation will make you that keen-with-anger kind of mad. That’s what it did for me. But the first time I watched it, I watched it wrong. That anger, that full body reaction, was directed at Lester.

“Wait. Why doesn’t he throw their food at them! Why isn’t he doing anything to get them back! Why isn’t he getting mad! ” I remember very vividly begging my father for answers to Lester's calm. I was shaken at how much this world abused him and yet he stared that world right back, but with a smile. I will never forget this. My father just looked over at me, with that same weightless smirk as our protagonist and said, “Because he doesn’t care.”

That response just made me angrier.

Finally, my virginal viewing concluded, and as Lester’s immortal words rang in my mind for the first time, I sat there livid. Never before have I not liked a selection from my Father, but something about this movie made my teeth clench. I absolutely despised the entirety of this movie.

Luckily for the future of my well-being, many months, maybe even a year pass before I am faced with this film once again. I don’t know what exactly made the difference. In that year I think my heart was broken for the first time, I lost some friends to shiny newer ones, my sister woke me up to some harsh realities too, but I wasn’t the opalescent Lauren brimming with sunshine and twinkles in her eye anymore like I was during my first watching. And because of that, it finally clicked.

It’s just me, in the quiet of a solely sun-lit room in the emptiness of my house, and Lester. Round 2. Looking back, something about the perfection of this memory seems almost fate-driven. Finally, I was watching this movie correctly.

Somewhere in the midst of it all, my father’s words finally made palpable sense. Finally, Lester’s stony demeanor echoed the reaction of a freed person, not a fool like I initially thought him to be. Finally, as that last monologue began to play in the confines of my empty room, did I truly hear him.

“I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday.”

Black out. On that inconclusive and ominous note, I began to cry. I began to sob absolutely uncontrollably at the perfection of a story, at the cold truth of reality, at the death of my innocent naivety.

I arose from that film, eyelashes clumpy with tears, the Lauren I am today.

I realize now that this film angered me so much the first time because, at that moment, I was still a part of the disgusting societal mentality the film demonizes. I was unfulfilled like Carolyn, I was hateful like Colonel Fitts, I was narcissistic like Buddy, I was boring like Angela. I was completely unaware that my life would’ve continued on to be just like there’s- unaware of the beauty that can be had from actively living.

And I mean really, truly, living. Breathing in crisp, cold air. Feeling your skin prickle from the sun’s heat. Walking in the grass- no shoes. Living by separating yourself from the mechanics of society and reconnecting to just simple and pure life.

Stepping outside my house that day and into the sunshine of the summer of 2015 is a moment I will never forget. Had I even felt sun until that day? I don’t know.

I realized as those hot rays dried my tears that the bubble of my contentment burst. Nothing would be acceptable ever again. Nothing would be acceptable because we as a society were living unacceptably. I would no longer be the Lauren who smiled through everything, who happily was complacent, who was sunshiny through discontent.

Life would no longer happen to me. Lester Burnham taught me to be an active participant in my own years and to also never steal the beauty that others found for themselves.

I got in my car, wiped my eyes one last time, and rolled down the windows. Heat. Air. Life. Pulling out of my driveway rang those life-shattering and life erecting words-

“But don’t worry… you will someday.”

Here it was. My someday. The first someday of the rest of my stupid little life, and it was beautiful.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

Sex And The Church

A letter to fellow believers.

25
Amanda Hayes

I know many of you just read that title and thought it was scandalous to see something so “risque” in the same setting as something holy. Well guess what – sex is part of that. Everyone seems to think they are separate, which makes since because most people treat them as though they are complete polar opposites. Shall we think this through?

Keep Reading... Show less
Tumblr

Chick-fil-A, I love you.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

An open letter to my father

What you did sounds dumb to me

1543
An open letter to my father
The Truth About My Parents' Divorce

Considering im 18 now & you're one of the best men i've ever met since you have a child; me. I want you to know that I love you, more than anyone, I love you. I don't forgive you for the way you hurt my mother. I'm hurt because you broke our family. Thing went down hill the day you found Laquita. You we're distant & shortly after my mother turned into the coldest, saddest women to walk past me. She's my best friend & so are you. Not one day goes by where I don't wonder what she did wrong. How on earth could you trade your family & the women who loved you unconditionally for a home wrecker? Sounds dumb to me.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Is God Reckless?

Exploring the controversy behind the popular worship song "Reckless Love"

2290
Is God Reckless?


First things first I do not agree with people getting so caught up in the specific theology of a song that they forget who they are singing the song to. I normally don't pay attention to negative things that people say about worship music, but the things that people were saying caught my attention. For example, that the song was not biblical and should not be sung in churches. Worship was created to glorify God, and not to argue over what kind of theology the artist used to write the song. I was not made aware of the controversy surrounding the popular song "Reckless Love" by Cory Asbury until about a week ago, but now that I am aware this is what I have concluded.The controversy surrounding the song is how the term reckless is used to describe God's love. This is the statement that Cory Asbury released after many people questioned his theology regarding his lyrics. I think that by trying to clarify what the song was saying he added to the confusion behind the controversy.This is what he had to say,
"Many have asked me for clarity on the phrase, "reckless love". Many have wondered why I'd use a "negative" word to describe God. I've taken some time to write out my thoughts here. I hope it brings answers to your questions. But more than that, I hope it brings you into an encounter with the wildness of His love.When I use the phrase, "the reckless love of God", I'm not saying that God Himself is reckless. I am, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. What I mean is this: He is utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His actions with regards to His own safety, comfort, and well-being. His love isn't crafty or slick. It's not cunning or shrewd. In fact, all things considered, it's quite childlike, and might I even suggest, sometimes downright ridiculous. His love bankrupted heaven for you. His love doesn't consider Himself first. His love isn't selfish or self-serving. He doesn't wonder what He'll gain or lose by putting Himself out there. He simply gives Himself away on the off-chance that one of us might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return.His love leaves the ninety-nine to find the one every time."
Some people are arguing that song is biblical because it makes reference to the scripture from Matthew 28:12-14 and Luke 15. Both of these scriptures talk about the parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd. The shepherd symbolizes God and the lost sheep are people that do not have a relationship with God. On the other hand some people are arguing that using the term reckless, referring to God's character is heretical and not biblical. I found two articles that discuss the controversy about the song.The first article is called, "Reckless Love" By Cory Asbury - "Song Meaning, Review, and Worship Leading Tips." The writer of the article, Jake Gosselin argues that people are "Making a mountain out of a molehill" and that the argument is foolish. The second article, "God's Love is not Reckless, Contrary to What You Might Sing" by author Andrew Gabriel argues that using the term reckless is irresponsible and that you cannot separate Gods character traits from God himself. For example, saying that God's love is reckless could also be argued that God himself is reckless. Reckless is typically not a word that someone would use to describe God and his love for us. The term reckless is defined as (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action. However, Cory Asbury is not talking about a person, he is talking about God's passionate and relentless pursuit of the lost. While I would not have chosen the word reckless, I understand what he was trying to communicate through the song. Down below I have linked two articles that might be helpful if you are interested in reading more about the controversy.


Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Signs You Grew Up In A Small Town

Whether you admit it or not, that tiny town will always have your heart.

1939
The Odyssey

1. You still talk to people that you went to elementary school with.

These are the people you grew up with and the people you graduated high school with. The faces you see in kindergarten are the same faces you’ll see for the rest of your life.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments