Magnolia is one of my favorite films of all time. It’s long and beautiful and weird. And long. Magnolia is a three-hour movie about vulnerability and forgiveness and, ultimately, what it means to choose happiness. It’s elegantly shot and the dialogue allows for the true drama of all the character’s stories to shine through.
I won’t share any major spoilers here (you really should watch it!), but I will offer one of my favorite scenes in the movie (thanks Youtube!) to illustrate what I want to talk about today.
Quiz Kid Donnie Smith: I really do have love to give, I just don’t know where to put it.
Donnie Smith’s character blurts this out after being summarily rejected by a love interest. You get the feeling that he’s been through this before, that it would have been more of a shock for his affections to actually be reciprocated.
No matter how many times we’ve been hurt, the reality of being human dictates that we yearn for another person to come along and accept our love. We don’t just want to be in love or even to make love – we want the person we give our love to to accept it and honor it. We want them to know, without having to say, how hard it was to finally let go of the past and offer ourselves up again.
The Magnolia soundtrack is pretty amazing, too. The film features Aimee Mann’s “Save Me,” a universal theme song for longing.
Come on and save me…
If you could save me,
From the ranks of the freaks,
Who suspect they could never love anyone.
The lonely brother at the bar who keeps looking around, checking his phone/watch as if he’s actually waiting for someone. Three hours later, he’s still there for last call. Save me.
The sister who stays up most of the night working or watching TV, mostly to stay busy and forget that the other side of the bed has been empty for far too long. Save me.
Over time, life can harden us. The one person you thought would never let you down? He does. The relationship you thought would last forever? It doesn’t. After multiple disappointments, you might find it difficult to believe that there’s really someone out there for you.
Maybe, the key is to remember that we are all Donnie Smith. We all want to be loved and accepted. And whenever we are courageous enough to say it out loud, to do away with the emotional hide-and-seek, we give others permission to do the same.
In this way, we save ourselves.
We all have a tremendous amount of love to give, no matter how much we’ve been hurt in the past. It’s up to us to decide if we’re going to let the past keep hurting us and our potential to love.
Or, if we’re going to go out there and find somewhere to put it.