movies

A Lesson from Claire Wineland: Love Your Life Your Way

Last month my sister and I went to see the movie Five Feet Apart in theaters. It follows two people with cystic fibrosis, who fall in love but are forced to keep their distance from one another.

The director of the film, Justin Baldoni, recently posted a video on his Instagram (that you can find here) where he introduced his main inspiration for the film: Claire Wineland. She lived her entire life with cystic fibrosis before passing away at the age of 21. In the video (taken in 2015), Claire gives a short speech, and it’s immediately clear why she changed so many peoples’ lives, and why her legacy is sure to live on.

She said:

I’m 18 years old and I have something called cystic fibrosis. I do only have a few years left to live. I mean, that’s how the doctors see it. Let’s get the whole like death thing out on the table, right?

Like all of us could get hit by a meteorite, so let’s stop thinking about the death part of it because that doesn’t matter to me. We have no control over it. But we do have control over whether or not we are proud of our lives. I mean, that’s something we have complete say over.

I am genuinely proud of my life. I am so proud to be alive. I’m not saying I don’t feel pain. I’m not saying I don’t feel sadness and suffering, and loneliness, because that’s what it means to be a human being. But I’m saying that that pain and that loneliness and that sadness is beautiful.

We live in a society that benefits off of us continuously looking for happiness and dreams and goals out here. Right? If we say, “No. We are not going to go looking out there for a happiness. We are alive and that is all we need.” We are beating the system. Right? And we’re living lives that we’re proud of. We’re living lives that make us happy!

You have to look at all of it. All of the pain, all of the loneliness, all of the beauty, all of the friendship and the family, and the sickness and the health. You have to lay it all in front of you and you have to say, “Okay. That is what I have and it is all wonderful. What can I make with it?”

Woah, right?

It really made me stop and think.

So often I am someone that puts an immense amount of pressure on myself to live a life that other people can be proud of. Sure, I take pride in what I do, but when I’m lying awake at night stressing, it is because I’m worried I’m not doing enough, not being enough. I’m worried people are judging me or pitying me or just wondering what the hell is she doing?

When we focus on the eyes of others, it’s hard to accept “all of it”. It’s hard to see all of the pain and sadness and beauty and family and friendship and sickness and health, and consider it “wonderful”. We can see the wonder in some of it, sure, namely the parts that might impress or connect us to others, but it’s hard to see all of it as the wonderful combination that makes us, us. It’s hard to realize that our unique combination of all of those elements is what makes our lives beautiful and special and important.

So today, I am going to take a look around, and I encourage you to do the same. Look at all of it. Everything you’ve been given, and find the meaning in it. Find the wonder. Stop living your life by other peoples’ standards and start living a life that you are proud of.

Some Suggestions for Netflix

You know that weird thing we all do? The thing where we sit down to watch a movie on Netflix and then spend 45 minutes scrolling and sighing and shaking our heads.

“No.”

“I’m not in the mood.”

“Maybe next time.” 

Then we look through the list of movies we’ve previously saved with the intention of making this scrolling process easier, only to hate every suggestion from our past selves, which in turn leads us to turn on a movie we’ve already seen far too many times.

Then, we wake up the next day wondering why we’re not more cultured and can’t keep up with conversations about all the great movies Netflix has to offer.

I have lived this life for a long time. It’s the reason why I have to set goals that require me to broaden my horizons. Otherwise I’d just watch The Fundamentals of Caring over and over and over again, all the while making the excuse that I would watch something else, even something I’ve seen before, if only Netflix added ______ to their catalog.

All that being said, I recently found out that you can submit suggestions to Netflix for what movies and TV shows they should add to their catalog.

Can you imagine?! Such power! At our fingertips!

You better believe I took advantage of it. Here were some of my suggestions:

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1) The Mary Kate & Ashley Movies

I see you, Netflix. Double, Double, Toil and Trouble. New York Minute. You’re not completely depriving me of Olsen twin goodness. But can we get some Billboard Dad up in here? Switching Goals, maybe? Or how about a few (or all, let’s be real) of the You’re Invited episodes? I haven’t been invited anywhere by the Olsen twins since VHS’s were in fashion and it’s depressing.

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2) Spice World

I’ve actually never seen Spice World, which I realize is a crime of sorts. And with the girls going back on tour next year, this movie could very well become a common topic of conversation again, and I’ll just be standing there, shrugging, with no idea how to contribute. Save me from the shrugging, Netflix! I want to fit in!

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3) Legends of the Hidden Temple

There has never been a game show that has infuriated me more than Legends of the Hidden Temple. It just never seemed like any of the kids on the show were trying. I mean, they were walking from obstacle to obstacle. WALKING. As if it wasn’t a COMPETITION. Actually, now that I think about it, it might be healthy for me not to rewatch this series…but I’m still suggesting it, just because I feel like it might be a good way to get out some aggression after a long day.

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4) Say Anything…

I looked it up, and apparently this was on Netflix and taken off in November of 2014, but I think it should come back. Sure, I’m a little biased because it’s my favorite movie of all time and includes one of the most iconic scenes—John Cusack holding a boombox over his head—in cinematic history and I want everyone to watch it so we can all sit around talking about it for hours, but this isn’t just for me. It’s for everyone.

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5) Rescue 911

This show went off the air when I was 6, but I still remember it vividly. Each episode showcased real life 911 calls. The corresponding situations were simulated to demonstrate when/why the calls were made and sometimes actual tape from the call was played to give you the full experience. I loved this show because it was essentially all about people helping people and in every episode the paramedics would come to the rescue. In another life, I might have taken my passion for this show and turned it into a career, but instead I’m just writing about it while I sit on the couch eating macaroni and cheese…

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I’m sure there are a lot more—too many more—that I’d also like to request, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. However, now that I know I have the power to request, I’ll make sure to start writing them down the minute I can’t find them and the disappointment sets in and I click play on The Fundamentals of Caring again. Consider me a soon-to-be frequent requester, Netflix. I look forward to our time together.