One of my favorite movies in the entire world is Singin’ in the Rain. I watched it religiously growing up and to this day, it is my ideal rainy weather movie. I just finished a book about the making of the film, which lead me to rewatching it yet again a few weeks ago.
One scene in particular hit me as I continue to figure out what my mid-20s are supposed to be. It’s the scene where R.F. Simpson, head of the studio, has come to shut production of The Dueling Cavalier down because of the advent of talking pictures. Cosmo Brown, played delightfully by Donald O’ Connor, has this great moment:
Cosmo: Talking pictures! That means I’m out of a job. At last I can start suffering and write that symphony.
R.F.: You’re not out of job, we’re putting you in as head of our new music department.
Cosmo: Oh, thanks, R.F.! At last I can stop suffering and write that symphony.
O’ Connor’s delivery of these lines never fails to make me laugh but it also made me think. We often associate the idea of unemployment with artistic or creative pursuits. Cosmo essentially says If I have to give up the day to day studio job that pays my bills, I might as well be miserable and try to write my masterpiece. Of course, the real joke comes next, when Cosmo acknowledges that his promotion will end his suffering, thus making it easier to write that masterpiece. The joke is so well-played because it acknowledges that, suffering or not, Cosmo is most likely never going to write his symphony.
It seems like most of us want it both ways – we want to have the time and freedom to commit to what we love, whether it’s writing a symphony or pursuing painting or creating our first start-up business or being a stay at home mom. We see examples every day, in pop culture and real life, of people who sacrifice to pursue their dreams. On the other hand, it’s often impractical, inconvenient, and seemingly foolish to pursue option A. It’s generally preferable to be financial secure, emotionally stable, and fulfilled at work in order to be in the physical, mental, and emotional state necessary to pursue our passions.
As noted in my last post, I wouldn’t even know what passion to pursue. As of today, I have no symphony to write and no art to suffer for. But at least I have Donald O’ Connor to help me laugh about.
Note: If anyone can find a YouTube version on this scene, I will be your new best friend and credit you in the post! Email to postcollegiateblog [at] gmail [dot com]