In the movie La La Land, there is a “what could have been” scene. And by the time you get there, you are so enthralled with the connection between the main characters, you can’t help but hope the real outcome is some cheesy, cinematic trick. A dream sequence, perhaps? Anything, so the beloved couple really does give up their grandest, creative dreams and choose each other, have a child and live happily ever after.
Playing it Forward…
The brilliance of La La Land is in the melancholy. Sandwiched between the high kicking, brightly colored cheerfulness, is a slice of the sacrifices we all make in life. If you are like me, you leave the theater haunted by the fact, things don’t always turn out as you expect or want. And even when you long for a happy ending, you’re smart enough (or in my case cynical enough) to continue to play “what could have been” to its natural conclusion.
We alcoholics are taught to do that.
To use another cinematic example, I am the only person on the planet who watched the ending of Pretty Woman and said, “Oh come on! That relationship will never last.” It’s nice to think they would ride off into the future, happily forgetting how she used to make her living. But after a while, he’d begin to fixate on those boots. And when she fist pumped and shouted, “Woof, woof!” at yet another polo match, it would become less cute. He would start working the kind of hours he used to work. (And that’s what had him hiring an escort for unfettered sex in the first place, right?)
Where am I Going with This?
I am definitely not at the stage where I am thankful for my alcoholism. But I am no longer resentful, either. And I nip those nostalgic, “what could have been” drinking memories in the bud, whenever they pop up. What if I just drank in a fun way and didn’t fall down as much? Couldn’t I time travel back to the tropics, sip a discrete glass of wine or ten and not become addicted? And most dangerous, What if I could go back to the year 2004 and start all over again, knowing what I know now?
I am not thankful for my alcoholism. Not at all. However, I know the bewildering steps that got me here (going every which way like an Escher graphic) cannot be changed. So what is the point of rewinding? Life is not a film, but the really great movies don’t give false hopes about “happily ever after” either. We make our indelible choices and we get bounced around in God’s plan and sometimes, shit just happens.
For the worse. For the better…