“My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This is my life. I am 42 years old. In less than a year I will be dead. Of course, I don’t know that yet. And in a way I am dead already.“-Lester Burnham, American Beauty (1999)
The movie, American Beauty, opens with above dialogue. Lester isn’t very happy and things are getting worse. Somewhere along the way, Lester will rediscover living. He starts talking care of himself, finding things that make him happy, and, at the end, he discovers the joy of celebrating others’ happiness.
As he matures in the story, his personal liberty and charisma attracts others. I think he recognizes how he can take advantage of others and wisely chooses not to use his power against others searching for their enlightenment. He learns that positive assurances and affirmations lead others to search for their paths.
Lester dies at the end and we hear this dialogue. What a interesting story and reminder to live.
“I’d always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn’t a second at all. It stretches on forever, like an ocean of time. For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout Camp, watching falling stars. And yellow leaves from the maple trees that lined our street. Or my grandmother’s hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper. And the first time I saw my cousin Tony’s brand-new Firebird. And Janie. And Janie. And Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain. And I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry, you will someday.”