Written by: Wynetta Metasurya
Edited by: Zania R Putri & Ghafi Reyhan
Illustration by: Lisa Kalystari
“What does happiness mean to you?” A simple yet regularly asked question, and intricate to answer for some others. Succeeding to enter our dream university, receiving our first salary at work, winning a competition. That is happiness to some people. But, what if there’s more to that?
Remember those times when you were a kid, jumping from a sofa to another – pretending the floor was lava, playing outdoor in the complex street barefoot with your neighbors, playing with your bag straps while waiting for someone to pick you up, or maybe playing a simple ABC 5 Dasar game with your friends? Remember? I believe those were happiness to some of you.
Now, try calling some random person and ask each one of them. “What does happiness mean to you?” I bet there will be at least a couple of people with different answers. Well, because it is different to most people. There’s no general definition of what happiness is.
To me, it’s watching the “Feel the Beat” movie, accompanied by a cup of warm tea while wrapping myself in a blanket on a rainy afternoon. For those of you who haven’t watched it, a brief explanation from me would be a typically predictable “failed artist who became a teacher unwillingly trying to figure out their student’s hidden talent” kinda movie with a pinch of charm and humor. But, actually, I guess that’s the charm behind it that somehow made a huge difference. As I watched it, not only did it make me smile, I felt a joy tingling inside.
Directed by Elissa Down, Feel The Beat is a movie that shared a story about a young talented Broadway dancer, named April Dibrina, who failed on her audition day and had to come back to her hometown. There, she met her former dance teacher, Miss Barb, who owned a dance studio where little girls practice dancing. Not long after she comes back, Miss Barb directly asks her to be a teacher to train the girls for an upcoming competition where the teacher gets a chance to perform with the students. At first, she refused to do so, but after seeing the judge for the semi-final who turns out to be Welly Wong, a famous Broadway actor, she decided to teach them. That’s when a journey full of drama and struggle begins. Nonetheless, they made it to the semi-finals and met Welly Wong. After seeing their wonderful performance, Welly Wong offered a position for April in Broadway, New York. Although initially, she decided to take it and went to New York, she realized her commitment to the girls and returned to them.
Finding yourself in uncertainty isn’t as easy as driving on a smooth road. Even if you are on a smooth road, you have to make a decision to drive, to start the engine, and so on. Just like April. She had to make a commitment and several decisions clueless as to where it would take her. A song called “Always” in the movie was played during the competition. “I’ve been running from my shadow, like a wayward arrow, as I try to find a way to you” goes the first verse. Clearly showing how sometimes we feel lost in our own way of pursuing our “happiness”, but after all, it’s a process of proving your own commitment to yourself and others. First lesson learned.
Throughout the whole movie, I remember a specific moment where April casually asked Miss Barb a question, saying “Are you happy?” Again, a simple question that anyone could ask. Miss Barb answered “I love my life, I chose this life. I love teaching, and I love owning my own business. And I love living in a town where if I’m feeling a little under the weather, the next thing I know, there’s a casserole on my porch.” as simple as that. She definitely has a point. To April, who has been a perfectionist her whole life, happiness is when she can perform on Broadway. Living her dreams and life expectancy. Maybe that is also the dream life most of us are trying to live right now. “You have to be a successful person!”, “You have to be popular and have lots of money!” they said. The pressure from others and the high standards you set for yourself make success a point of happiness, let alone all the “achievement posts” kinda feeds on social media, building an intensive competition among us to accomplish more and more in life.
Don’t get me wrong, having a “successful” life is one of the biggest happiness anyone could have. However, is it always the same success measurement for everyone?
In the movie, Miss Barb changed April’s perspective towards happiness. To some people, it’s not always about achieving all those “spectacular beyond-expectations” things in life, but also pouring your hearts out to others or just as basic as “having a casserole on our porch”.
“But life isn’t a movie!” Never said it is. We all know it doesn’t run as smoothly as a movie plot. Living “a normal happy life” with high expectations from the previous generation makes it difficult for us not to be ‘great’. But at times in the process, you have to learn to let go of the things you love to finally receive joy in your life, like April who ‘ditch’ her Broadway position for so-called “a bunch of girls”. Then, you’ll find joy within. Another lesson learned.
In the end, people said, “Do what makes you happy!” Well, it isn’t wrong, you can do things that make you happy. But, rather than doing things that make you happy, how about doing matters that bring out the inner joy in you? So, take a moment to think about what really awakes the joy inside you and makes you dance to the beat of life.