“What I’ve learned is that a great love is a lot like a good memory…When it’s there, and you know it’s there, but it’s just out of your reach, it can be all that you think about. And you can focus on it, and try to force it, but the more you do, the more you seem to push it away. But if you’re patient, and you hold still, well maybe…just maybe…it’ll come to you.”
–Epsilon-Church (Burnie Burns), Red vs. Blue Season 8: Revelation
“Every long-lost dream led me to where you are,
Others who broke my heart, they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms,
This much I know is true…
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.”
–Rascal Flatts, “Bless the Broken Road”
NOTE: In this blog post, I’ll be discussing several key plot points of the movie (500) Days of Summer, including the very ending of the film. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading immediately and go watch it before continuing with this post!!! You’ve been warned!
Well, now that that’s out of the way, I wanted to go over a few of my thoughts about (500) Days of Summer, which I just finished watching for the second time after getting my own copy on DVD (I had first watched it several months ago as a Netflix DVD rental). Since I first saw this movie, I’ve discovered that opinions of its main characters Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) and Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are sharply divided. Some folks empathize more with Summer, and say that Tom was being a selfish & clingy jerk who didn’t respect Summer’s emotional boundaries. Others say that Tom was just trying to be a nice guy, and that Summer should have given a serious relationship with Tom more of a chance instead of being so distant and noncommittal. As for myself, I sympathize with both Summer and Tom.
I sympathize with Tom’s plight, because I understand how it feels to be rejected by someone who you’ve developed feelings for (as I’m sure most, if not all of us, understand as well). I will also grant that Summer could have been much more open with Tom when they reconnected at Millie’s wedding, and should have told him that she was seeing someone with whom she was getting serious. That way, it might not have been so much of a shock for Tom when he showed up at Summer’s party & learned that she had gotten engaged.
However, as was pointed out many times throughout the story, Summer was upfront with Tom from the beginning: She was not ready for a serious, long-term relationship with someone. In persisting to stubbornly cling to his idea of how love was “supposed to work,” Tom not only disregarded Summer’s legitimate feelings about relationships (stemming from her parents’ divorce), but he jeopardized the possibility of a rewarding long-term friendship with Summer. If Tom had had the maturity and courage to speak openly to Summer sooner about where their relationship was heading–and had been honest enough with himself to admit that it wasn’t ultimately going to go anywhere serious–then he might have been able to avoid the falling out that the two of them had. As it is, while Tom and Summer were able to come to terms with each other in their final conversation, it seems clear to me that they weren’t going to have much (if any) relationship as friends after this story. This is one of the saddest things for me about this film.
There is, however, a bittersweet irony in Summer & Tom’s ill-fated romance. While “happily ever after” was never meant to happen between them, Summer & Tom were meant to meet each other and be together for a time, so that each one could have an impact on the other’s life and propel them farther along on the path to finding the ones who they truly were meant to be with. In Summer’s case, she was meant to encounter Tom and give thought to his stubborn belief in fate & true love, so that she was better prepared to be open-minded when she finally met her husband-to-be. As for Tom, his experience with Summer was meant to give him a much-needed and long overdue wake-up call, so that he would find the will to shake himself out of his funk, rediscover his passion for architecture, and pursue his dream of a career in it. This, coupled with finally being willing to let go of his infatuation with Summer as well as his own rigid views of how romance was “supposed” to work, provided Tom with the opportunity to meet Autumn–the woman who he was truly meant to be with, and might have been with sooner had he not been so fixated on Summer.
In conclusion, there are two lessons that I take away from (500) Days of Summer. First, we must not allow our own stubbornness and selfishness to ruin opportunities for rewarding friendships. Second, if we want to find love in this world, we must be willing to relax, take a deep breath (both literal and metaphorical), and allow love to come to us without trying to force it. To quote some valuable advice passed along from my friend Jonathan, “You want to know the trick to finding someone? Stop looking.”