You know that feeling you get when a friend shares some weird thought or secret habit out loud, and you find yourself exclaiming, “I thought I was the only one who did that!” That was totally how I felt while watching Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris a few years ago.
I would frequently talk to friends and family about how I wished that I could live in another decade for just a week or two to see what it was like. But I’d never really seen that wish told in a story as eloquently as it was in Midnight in Paris. It totally captured the undeniable allure and magic that another time period can hold, but it also went so far beyond that.
As much as I hate to admit it, I’m totally guilty of “grass-is-greener syndrome” — not only when it comes to times, but places, situations, and relationships, too. Scrolling through Facebook, I’m navigating through carefully-curated glimpses into my friends’ and family’s lives: awesome vacations, perfect boyfriends, career success. Even though I know that I’m only seeing one side of the story, it’s hard not to wonder what it would be like to have what someone else has. Sometimes it can be traced back to a fear of missing out, and sometimes it’s rooted in envy. Whatever the cause may be, I know it’s not a healthy or productive way to go about day-to-day life.
And such is the lesson in Midnight in Paris: living in the present and focusing on the “now” can be more rewarding than you could ever imagine. Gil’s character — played by the ever-so-charming Owen Wilson — is totally enamored with Paris in the 1920s. He meets a woman from 1920s Paris, who’s completely convinced that the Belle Époque is the superior era. No matter where you are or who you’re with, it can be tempting to dream up a happier, more perfect version of life that exists somewhere else. The truth is that this better existence is always an illusion! Think about a time when you achieved something that you had been working towards for a long time. Surely, you felt an immediate sense of accomplishment, pride, and satisfaction when it happened. But how long did that feeling last? It was probably a relatively short amount of time before the excitement faded, and you were seeking something bigger and better once again.
It’s wonderful to have goals to aspire to and experiences to look forward to. Yet, if we’re always chasing the next best thing, or continually nostalgic for a time that’s passed, we’re missing out on so much that’s right in front of us. Lately, I’ve been trying to take a page from Midnight in Paris: appreciating the awesome influence of days gone by, but also realizing how exciting it is to be right here, right now. “In the moment” is my current destination of choice, and it’s pretty fabulous so far.
Though you just can’t beat Paris in the ‘20s.
By: Kim Windyka