Thanks, La La Land, for Showing Us a Bit of Reality

WARNING: This article contains a tremendous spoiler of the film La La Land. If you haven’t seen it yet, but plan to, please move on to another post (I won’t be offended).

Kellie and I went to see La La Land  a couple of weeks ago. We both loved the film for it’s wonderful music, captivating story and creativity, but it’s the ending that really hooked us. The final scenes helped me understand a bit better the value of making plans (financially or otherwise) even if they don’t work out.

For most of the film we’re led through the story of a blossoming, “la la land” romance of the main characters, Sebastian and Mia. Their affection for each other runs parallel to their own ambitions. Sebastian, a musician, dreams of starting a jazz club to preserve the music's authenticity. Mia is an aspiring actress and playwright with hopes of making it big.


As the film approaches its climactic moment, Mia has received the opportunity of a lifetime to act in a film in Paris--far away from Sebastian in Los Angeles. Fast forward five years, and Mia has reached stardom. She walks into her comfortable home with her husband at her side, her young daughter on the couch with the babysitter. But her husband isn’t Sebastian! It’s some other guy! (I remember detecting a slight *gasp* in the audience upon seeing this, or maybe it was just me)

Mia has realized her dream and we discover that Sebastian has as well, but separately from each other. We see this as Mia and her husband, out for a night on the town, happen upon Sebastian’s hopping jazz club after years of being apart.

Sebastian and Mia share a glance and we’re quickly taken through a series of scenes showing an alternate story of the two ending up together. They’re happy, they have a family, and all is well. But that’s not reality. Mia is married to a different man--and happily at that.

As Mia and her husband leave the club, her eyes connect briefly with Sebastian’s, they share a smile, and the film ends.


So much of what I do professionally is helping families chart a financial course and stick to it. This is a deliberate and worthwhile exercise, and we do it because we feel our future lives will turn out a certain way.

But then life happens, courses change, and things don’t turn out the way we expect. But this isn’t always a bad thing. A promotion may take us a different direction professionally, we may have a “surprise” baby enter the family, or we decide to move from a big city to a small town. Life shows us, as La La Land does, that there’s happiness to be had along many paths.

Kellie and I have also set some financial priorities over our years together. Our goals when I worked for a regional bank look a lot different than our goals after I started Hale Financial Solutions. Opportunities have sprung up and life suddenly took us in another direction. But we’re happily plodding along, enjoying all that there is to be enjoyed in our lives.

We don’t look back sorrowfully on what might have been, but we enjoy what is. We’re still growing our family, saving for our kids’ college, taking vacations, and investing toward retirement. Will one or several of these priorities change again? I can almost guarantee it. But we’ve moved beyond a proverbial “la la land” to one of reality, and we’re having a great time.