This will be my last post about Lester Burnham. At least for a while. Stick with me through this one and our topics about American culture will expand. But this picture is very important.
Lester was completely apathetic to all aspects of his life. His job, his health, his daughter, his wife, his neighbors, the music Carolyn played during dinner. No reactions. There was only one thing that got him excited. A fantasy about a girl. The fantasy was completely out of realms of possibility. It was just a dream. Everyday... just a dream. He thought this was the only good thing in his life.
In other words, he was lost.
Then something changes.
Lester finds out he's going to lose his job. The one thing he had going for him. The thing he's been afraid of losing for his whole boring, unfulfilling career. Whoosh, there it goes. The loss makes him angry. So angry that he chooses to respond. In Lester's frustration, he blackmails his boss for a year's salary of--almost--$60,000. When accused of being "twisted", Lester relies:
"Nope. I'm just an ordinary guy with nothing to lose."
It was true. Lester had risked very little in his life. So he had very little to show for it. Now when his fear of losing his job becomes a reality, it's the only thing he's willing to fight for! Now he's willing to take a risk.
***Stick with me here, I'm not suggesting by any stretch of the imagination that you ever blackmail anyone. This movie is not about good motives to demonstrate morality. These characters are each trying to etch themselves some new experience, after feeling like they were living at rock bottom.***
Surprised that he gets away with the pay-off, Lester tries some new things which include getting a job flipping burgers and buying his dream car. That's right, what feels like victory to Lester, looks like a mid-life crisis to his wife. And let's face it:
This is the definition of mid-life crisis.
But hang on because it gets worse...
One night when Lester overhears a conversation that changes his perspective. He hears that the girl--the recurring impossible dream girl--would be interested in him if he worked out a little bit. Hold the phone! Suddenly, Lester has hope that his dream could become a reality!
That's the tipping point. This new information changes his outlook. Now that his perspective has changed, he has hope. Now Lester has a mission. He starts working out. He notices that he neighbors are in great shape so he asks them for tips on how to look good in the buff. He goes running with them. As soon as he starts running, he runs by a new neighbor and stops to meet him.
Whoa, whoa, whoa... Lester is a totally new person! He's got a goal that leads him into improving his health and getting involved in his community. The new lifestyle leads him to my favorite line in the movie:
"It's a great thing when you realize
you still have the ability to surprise yourself."
***If blackmailing your boss or fantasizing about your one of your daughter's friend's Lester has done are enticing you, remember from the previous posts that Lester dies at the end.
And let's just say it's not from natural causes. We'll talk more about morality later.***
If you're avoiding reality now? If you find yourself trying to mentally escape your life? Then let's talk.
Or keep reading this blog and we'll talk about how we can bring you back to life. Because you will also die
at the end of your story.
But I want you to live a full life long before that happens.
Let's get back to reality. We're done with "American Beauty" for now.
It's time to wake up from the dream.