I have an unfortunate tendency to go for runs at 2:30 pm in the Tucson heat.
Fry an egg on the sidewalk.
Having lived in Tucson for two decades, I know better.
But I do it.
And I don’t blame my dehydration and sunburn on the summer.
I take full responsibility.
Which is why 500 Days of Summer is a brilliant film, and why everyone should quit blaming Summer and hating her.
At the beginning of the movie, the love interest (Summer) tells our main character that she doesn’t believe in love. At two or three other points in the film, she very directly states that she doesn’t want anything serious, needs it to be casual, wants to be “just friends”, etc… And while I get that he’s adorable and we’re totally rooting for him because he’s our protagonist…
I don’t get why we get so mad at Summer for being exactly the character she always was.
And why does everyone say it’s a depressing movie?
I know why we say it’s a depressing movie.
We say that because we all hope.
Even though the voice-over narrator guy tells us it isn’t a love story, we want it to be one. Because we want to believe in something we’ve never seen or experienced.
And the truth is that it could go either way.
It could be that he loves her beyond what she desires and deserves… and they live happily-ever-after.
But, equally as often, he loves her beyond what she desires and deserves… and she ends up with the other guy.
“He thought this time, his expectations would align with reality.”
That’s what our narrator tells us about Main Character Tom.
And that’s why we’re on Tom’s side.
Because we all know what it feels like for our expectations to be exactly the opposite of reality.
And just once, we’d like to see hope win.
Because we have trouble believing that the thing that never wins could be at all valid. So in a way, we’re mad at Summer because she doesn’t give us permission to hope.
But what I don’t get is why we think we need permission to start with.
What if it’s okay to hope for something, while still pretty confident that it’ll never happen?
What if Tom’s experience was completely valid because hope is valid.
What if vulnerability is more than just a willingness to let others know the hidden pieces of your heart?
What if vulnerability is a willingness to get it wrong? Boldly. Unashamedly. Wrong.
What if Tom looked at reality, understood it for what it is, and still expected something better?
We love Tom for that.
Because it’s ridiculously difficult to be the hopeless romantic, idealist, optimist.
Because it hurts to be that.
But I still think we ought to be that.
Tom wasn’t duped. He wasn’t misled by reality. He just chose to hope for more.
Not Summer’s fault.
*One more noteworthy quote from the movie that I just couldn’t quite fit in (but love too much to leave out):
“As he listened, Tom began to realize these weren’t stories routinely told. These were stories one had to earn… He wondered if anyone else had made it this far.”
I love that quote because it shows the weight and responsibility that comes when someone is vulnerable with us in a way they haven’t been with other people. Of course, I think of myself here, because there are a lot of stories I don’t routinely tell… that I hope to tell to someone someday. And I love it because it displays those moments as precious and rare.