I watched The Adjustment Bureau recently, and it made me think, like all good movies do. There were a couple of cliched and corny quotes in there, but there were plenty more really thought-provoking ones.
The movie struck a chord with me because it explored the tension between so-called 'destiny' and finding love. In the movie, David and Elise have a 'destiny' all mapped out for them - and then they meet and keep finding themselves drawn to each other even though 'the powers that be' try to force them apart.
Elise Sellas: He was a great guy. Brilliant choreographer and dancer and... we had the same group of friends. We'd known each other a long time.
David Norris: He sounds great. Why didn't you marry him?
Elise Sellas: Because of you. I'm not a hopeless romantic. I'd never allow myself to be that way. But once I felt, even for a moment what I felt with you, you ruined me. I didn't want to settle for less.
David Norris: I know the feeling.
Elise Sellas: Scares the shit out of me.
Both have amazing futures, at that. David, a rising politician, is destined to be the president of the United States, while Elise, a dancer, one of the world's most famed choreographers. Why risk a destiny like that for some random stranger you met by chance?
"Don't settle." That's what people tell me again and again. You're so young, you have so much to experience. You don't want to be tied down. And I don't. At least, that's what I believe on most days. Then once in awhile, I get a taste of a settled, domestic life, and some part of me wistfully thinks, "This isn't so bad."
Thompson: David, you can change the world. But that doesn't happen if you stay with her.
David Norris: Why do you people care who I love?
Thompson: It's not about her. It's about you. What being with her does to you.
David Norris: What it does to me? I'm better when I'm with her. Even you said it, the speech.
Thompson: In small doses, Elise was the cure. But in large doses, she rubs off on you.
David Norris: Stop.
Thompson: David, the president can't be a loose cannon.
I've been told, again and again, that if I get tied down, I won't be able to travel, do whatever I want to do, really work and establish my career, live a good life, and so on. But every now and then I meet someone who makes me think, "What's the point of all that if I can't even have someone to share it with?"
Just like what good is it being the president of the world's most powerful country if you can't even be with the girl you love? As David and Elise find, no matter how much they try to get on with their lives they can't shake the feeling they felt when they were together.
Thompson: Can't outrun your fate, David.
David Norris: I...just disagree with you about what my fate is. I know what I feel for her and it's not gonna change. All I have are the choices that I make, and I choose her. Come what may.
This idea that you could meet someone who makes you feel so happy that you forget about everything else you used to strive for has always haunted me. I guess it's because I'm such a driven and ambitious person that on most days, I can't imagine myself being satisfied with a monotonous, domestic, routine life.
But there always comes along that one person to make you think, "You know, I could do this. I could do this every day and be really happy." All of a sudden, all those ambitions can wait... All those things that really mattered don't matter so much... Everything that used to be important doesn't seem so important anymore... because there's someone in your life that just being around makes you happy.
David Norris: You know Thompson's not lying. They're already talkin' about me being a presidential candidate. I'm phoning in my speeches and I'm sixteen points up.
Harry Mitchell: The public loves you.
David Norris: Before I met Elise, that's all I cared about. I don't even notice it now. I can't stop thinking about her.
I used to be idealistic, but not anymore. In fact, I believe that if more people just accepted that nothing lasts forever, people change, sometimes relationships don't work out the way you expected them to, and just move on with their lives, there'll be a lot less sad and lonely people out in the world.
But I do believe that some people find that moment in their lives when they look at the person next to them and think, "As long as this person is beside me, everything will be okay."
David Norris: This can't be wrong. This can't be wrong.
But is a person like that worth risking everything for? Is love worth risking security and stability for? Is it worth jumping into the unknown and going against the status quo for? Worth throwing away your future, your 'destiny' for?
David and Elise thought so.
Elise Sellas: Why do they think it's wrong?
David Norris: The book. Their book. But what if I can find who wrote it?
[Elise shakes her head not understanding]
David Norris: Okay, I can go through this door, alone. You'll never see me or the people chasing us again. Or you can come with me, and I don't know what's on the other side, but I'd know you'd be next to me. And that's all I wanted since the minute I met you.
Elise Sellas: I'm coming with you.
And so they risk everything. Literally. They outrun 'The Adjustment Bureau' until they're trapped on top of a roof, surrounded on all sides. And David is about to have his mind 'erased', obliterated. The world as they know it is on the brink of coming to an end.
Harry Mitchell: Your entire world has turned upside down and you're thinkin' about a woman.
And - this is my favorite scene in the movie - the moment they realize that they are about to lose everything they risked for, they grab on to each other and kiss, for what will probably be the last time. And then The Adjustment Bureau disappears. The powers that be changed their minds. Inspired by the courage of David and Elise, they rewrote 'The Plan' to include a future in which they both could be together.
As I watched that scene, just one thought flashed through my mind: that could be me. That could be me. As cold-hearted and unromantic as I may seem on the surface (I'm not crazy about gushy displays of affection, mushy names, grand sentimental gestures, or even flowers), there's a hopeless romantic inside of me who would say, "Screw what other people think, screw the status quo, screw the future. If this person makes me smile, if the world seems like a better place when I'm with him, then nobody is going to tell me that I cannot be with him."
And yet, the ruthlessly practical and pragmatic realist inside of me also believes that such feelings never last, that it's always a case of the right person at the wrong time, and that happiness is more about what you choose to do with your life rather than trying to chase the dream of the 'ideal match'.
But the hopeless romantic continues to hope with all her heart that someday there'll be someone worth risking everything for.
If that person exists, giving up my dreams and settling for mediocracy doesn't sound quite so bad. And why do I have to 'settle' anyway? All I want is to travel the world. Out of the 6 billion people on earth, surely there's one I could travel the world with?
Harry Mitchell: Most people live life on the path we set for them. Too afraid to explore any other. But once in a while people like you come along and knock down all the obstacles we put in your way. People who realize free will is a gift you'll never know how to use until you fight for it.
Some people tell me I wear my heart on my sleeve too much. Someone told me that recently I've been talking less about my personal life on my blog, and that maybe that was a sign of growing up, and learning to guard my heart. Another person told me today that I'm too guarded, and I keep people at bay.
I'm still trying to figure out which parts of myself are good things, and which parts I should maybe change.
I think I will always be a little bit of both. There will always be a part of me that holds back, a part of my heart I'm not sure if anyone will ever fully own, and another part of me that just willingly gives itself away to those I find myself drawn to.