I recently watched the film “Happy-Go-Lucky,” the fictional story of a woman who is perpetually cheery. While many critics described the main character, Poppy, as annoying and carefree to the point of being saccharine, she was actually a very psychologically compelling woman.
Please note that this is not a movie review. I have no idea how to write those. In fact when I write a DVD review on my Netflix account, it usually looks something like this:
Star Wars is a really, really, really good movie. The Jedis were totally awesome and Princess Leia is smokin’ hot. If they allowed light sabers in the office I’d totally get one. Anyway, I’d highly recommend this movie to others.
No, this post is why we all, secretly or publicly, want to be like Poppy.
What makes Poppy unusual is that she is consistently living in the moment. She lives a life of responsible hedonism, enjoying every moment she has as if it could be her last while still caring for others in the process. Poppy laughs all the time, cracks an unusual number of jokes, enjoys her friends’ company, drinks and has sex when she wants. She is a free spirit. She doesn’t worry about what other people think of her and doesn’t fret over pointless trivialities. She essentially lives without cognitive distortions.
When I spoke to Dr. Gail about the movie, her take was that Poppy wasn’t “serious enough.” This is a short-sighted view and is usually stated by someone who is oozing with anxiety, fear and neurosis. Although Poppy constantly has a smile on her face she ensures that she lives a life of significance. She works as a teacher and influences children in a positive way. She tries to help others overcome their hang-ups and neuroses. At 30 years of age she knows that if there are certain things in life that she wants (e.g., children, 401K) she will need to take action at some point. But she also knows something that most of us forget: that tomorrow is no guarantee and, even if it is, she can be happy independent of what it brings. She has the wisdom of someone three times her age with the physical ability to take full advantage of her knowledge. Poppy is the exception to the famous quote, “youth is wasted on the young.”
Can anyone truly be like this fictional character? Probably not, as being neurotic is in many ways part of the human condition. While this is unfortunate Poppy’s take on human existence is something to which we should be aspiring. If you decide to check out the film and hate it feel free to let me know, but try not to deny the envy I suspect you’ll feel about her complete and total absorption of life.