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Feeling a Little Lost? A Few Films on Finding Your Way

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Feeling discouraged with the way life is headed? Usually when we feel this way, something incredible is coming. Here's a list of movies that'll help you see the hope.
Photo by Mark Rogers/The Weinstein Company


“All that is gold does not glitter; Not all those who wander are lost…”  —J.R.R Tolkein, “The Fellowship of the Ring”

Feeling lost in life doesn’t necessarily imply that we’ve endured some sudden, life-altering punch to the gut like being fired or losing someone close to us. Sometimes the need for a significant change comes startlingly out of nowhere at all. We wake up one morning, go to the cushy job we’ve been working for five, maybe ten years, and a sense of unhappiness eases into us. We’re suddenly hyper-aware of having become stagnant and realize that something needs to give, but what that is, we’re not quite sure.

Maybe the plan we laid out for ourselves never quite worked out—or maybe it did, but it wasn’t what we had hoped it would be. Luckily, it’s never too late to shake things up, change our course and sail for an uncharted territory that might renew our sense of purpose, help us find the courage to ditch complacency and take up the helm toward the rest of our life, full speed ahead!

Here are a few great north stars in movie form to guide us into the next exciting chapter of our lives.

1. “Mona Lisa Smile”

Though more progressive than previous decades, the 1950s didn’t afford much opportunity for women to follow their dreams and ambitions. Julia Roberts plays Katherine Ann Watson, who takes up a position teaching Art History at a New England college for well-to-do young women. At that moment in time, women’s education was a stepping stone for marrying a wealthy, eligible bachelor and beginning a family life.

The women attending Katherine’s class, although very bright, don’t consider a future for themselves outside of following in their mother’s footsteps. As a progressive woman, Katherine inspires the class to consider the future they would choose for themselves, but the lesson doesn’t sink in right away.

The students aren’t the only ones deciding between taking the safe road and the bumpier, unknown alternative. Katherine herself is at a crossroads when it comes to opening her heart to someone and finding what her next great endeavor will be. The future affords us limitless possibilities, but opening our eyes and believing that we have an option to take control of our lives can be the hardest part.

2. “Good Will Hunting”

It’s not always enough to be born with natural talent, as Will Hunting (Matt Damon) proves in the Oscar-winning film “Good Will Hunting.” Will is a certifiable math genius but never pursued his abilities largely because of his upbringing. Raised in an abusive home in a heavily working-class part of Boston, he ends up taking up work as a janitor at MIT—drinking and rabble-rousing with friends in his spare time.

When we challenge the limitations our minds have enforced and see that we can change our destinies, then we’re one step closer to realizing our full potential.

After anonymously solving a complex mathematical equation on the blackboard at MIT, he’s discovered by a faculty member who tries to steer him toward a career in math. Though fully capable, Will refuses their offers but agrees to speak with psychologist Dr. Sean Maguire, whom Will comes to trust. It’s with Maguire’s help that Will is able to break the shackles that his own mind has fashioned and realize that he’s not beholden to the circumstances of his upbringing.

Having talent isn’t always enough to take us to a future we want, especially when a lack of confidence and self-esteem have beaten us down.

3. “Lion”

“Lion” is the unbelievably true story of Saroo (Dev Patel), a man who was only five years old when he was separated from his brother on a train near the impoverished town in India where he lived. He finds himself in Calcutta over 1,000 miles away from home and is eventually adopted by Australian parents.

When we challenge the limitations our minds have enforced and see that we can change our destinies, then we’re one step closer to realizing our full potential.

Now an adult, Saroo hardly remembers his early years in India, but the pain that his mother and brother must still be feeling at never having learned Saroo’s fate becomes overwhelming. He withdraws from his adopted family and obsessively tries to find the town where he was born using the little information he has and an impossibly huge radius on Google Earth.

Just before giving up, Saroo miraculously recognizes a small town that strikes a match with his memory. Saroo travels back to his hometown and is reunited with his mother and finally manages to emotionally heal from his traumatic experience decades before.

While Saroo’s tale is one of physically losing his way home, his resolve to beat the odds and find his way emotionally is something we can all relate to on some level. Many of us decide not to follow our hearts because the chances of failing seem astronomically high, but if we were to only try, who knows? The results could end up being sweeter than we ever knew possible.

4. “French Kiss”

Okay, let’s end on a lighter note with a classic romantic comedy, shall we?

Kate (Meg Ryan), is a woman whose life has, until now, gone according to plan. She has a steady job, a husband and can finally afford the downpayment on their first home. When her husband, Charlie (Timothy Hutton), goes on a trip to France, he phones Kate to tell her he’s fallen for a young French woman and won’t be coming back.

Kate conquers her fear of flying to chase after her husband and win him back, but along the way she meets up with Luc (Kevin Kline), a curmudgeonly Frenchman with shady dealings. The unlikely pair ends up helping each other with their missions. Kate may have lost her husband, but what she found was a new and exhilarating sense of life, love and adventure with Luc.

The safety and stability we often feel are, unfortunately, more precarious than we would like to admit, and when we lose it, it can seem impossible to recover. Lucky for us, the future is never set in stone. It’s alive, like we are, and it can change in an instant, but it’s up to us to make the first move. We all know what happens when one door closes; it’s choosing to turn away and start searching for the open one that’s the hard part.

When you finally walk across the threshold, there might just be a beautiful vineyard in the French countryside and newly-found happiness on the other side.