First of all, this post is not going to be bleak and sad like it seems right now after the visuals. I promise. And SPOILER ALERT, if you haven’t seen this unbelievably great 1993 Harold Ramis comedy, I’m going to be mentioning it. It’s incredible. How it didn’t even get nominated for an Academy Award is beyond me. One of the most original scripts of all time. Amazing writing. Seriously. If you haven’t seen it, I *highly highly highly* recommend it.
This is a romantic comedy, and even though it leans on the ‘He’s an ass, but he gets better,’ trope a little hard, it’s Harold Ramis and Bill Murray and the story is so outstandingly written, I forgive them for that. I love this movie. I think everybody who can squeeze two hours of screen time in today should watch it. Besides Pete Venkman in Ghostbusters, this is Bill Murray’s finest performance in film, in my opinion. I mean, it’s a *better role* than Venkman if I remove my juvenile nostalgic love of Ghostbusters from the equation. Still funny. VERY funny. But philosophically deep on a lot of levels. And one of the things I took away from this film is that although it takes Phil Connors (Bill Murray’s character) a while, eventually, how he finally finds his happy ending, is recognizing two things:
- Life isn’t all about him. He has to consider other people. Their lives. Their feelings. Their dreams and ambitions. Their problems. Not just his own. He has to give to other people; he can’t just take. He has to know and respect other people; he can’t just expect them to know and respect him without reciprocity. And…
- There is magic and real significance in the ordinary and every day. Rushing around to get the Next Big Thing or to be the Next Big Thing often blinds us to truly making the most out of every day, and appreciating the ordinary things around us.
One writer that I greatly admire who inspires me, even though I don’t write YA stuff is John Green. I love his work not only because he writes good stories, but also because he has the same kinds of ideas I have about stories. Here’s a quote of his…
“Well, my books don’t have capital-i Ideas, really. I don’t have ideas that hit like a ton of bricks out of nowhere, like BAM! Write a book about a wizard school! Or, Bam! Vampires in Suburbia! The ideas for my books come from lower case-i ideas…
Then little ideas will come along and link up to other little ideas and then… I have a book. I would love to have a high-concept book idea fall out of the sky and hit me one day, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
I think John Green looks for the passion and meaning in ordinary life like me. If I could be a fraction as good at getting it onto paper as he is, that’d be awesome. I’m writing this piece today because sometimes over the years when I hit a rough patch of writer’s block (which I’m in right now…ugh), I’ve asked my friends for writing prompts and they tend to give me high-concept leads. “Dystopian future where…”
I mean, I’ve tried it a couple of times. I even have a couple of false starts on high-concept things saved…one inspired by the current social climate in the area I live in; one inspired by (really…not kidding…) the Ben Folds song From Above that he co-wrote with another ‘passion and magic in every day life’ author I love, Nick Hornby. THIS IS NOT TODAY’S LOVE SONG. (I linked it, and I love it, but fair warning…listen to the words and watch the video at your own risk. It kind of makes me teary thinking about its implications sometimes). But neither of those stories really took off because I’m more focused on ordinary life and ordinary love. I think great passion and meaning can be found in ordinary life and ordinary love. And I don’t have to live the same day over and over and over and over again to realize that.
OBVIOUSLY today’s love song is I Got You Babe.
(Well, it’s obvious if you’ve seen the movie. For real, watch Groundhog Day if you can fit it into your schedule.)