When the clock strikes midnight on December 31, we will say goodbye to 2015, and hello to 2016. Once the ball has dropped, we will also begin to focus on our resolutions for the upcoming year. Some of us will try to quit smoking, some will try to exercise more, some will try to travel more. Others will choose easy New Year's resolutions that you can actually keep, like doing something you've been putting off for ages, or finding a way to be more relaxed. Simply put, most of us will try to be more happy in the 12 months ahead by throwing out the bad from the year before, like a spring cleaning. But, before you solidify the changes you wish to make in 2016, may I recommend you start 2016 by watching the film Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind, and rethink your approach to the new year: Don't throw 2015 away completely — instead embrace all that was good and think on all that wasn't.
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind stars Kate Winslet as Clementine and Jim Carrey as Joel, a couple whose relationship has gone south, leaving Joel unsure of what to do. After realizing that Clementine has dealt with the pain of their broken relationship by having her memories of him wiped from her mind though a new scientific procedure provided by Lacuna, Inc. — a company that will quite literally erase your memories for you — Joel decides to do the same. On the surface, the Michel Gondry-directed film, written by Charlie Kaufman, is a modern relationship drama that deals with what happens when things start to fall apart. But, with a deeper look, it's clear it offers an offbeat look at why we love the way we do, and why not even the most advanced science can solve the problem of heartbreak. It's also a science-fiction thriller that leaves anyone who sees it asking themselves whether they would actually go as far as erasing someone from their consciousness in order to be completely rid of them.
Additionally, it also shows how far most of us will go to find a quick fix to what is bothering us.
No one would deny that it's often easier to start from scratch then to try and work things out. To wipe the slate clean and just leave our worries behind — even better, if like Clementine and Joel, you can find a medical procedure to do the work for you. A new year's resolution sort of acts like that magic pill that you convince yourself is the answer to having a better life. Starting that first day of the new year, you tell yourself the year before is gone — but it isn't really. To pretend it didn't happen doesn't relieve you of any pain, unhappiness, or confusion from the previous year. Instead, it's just us taking the easy way out.
The easy way isn't often the right way, which may be why most of us can't manage to actually keep our resolutions. We're trying to put a tiny Band-Aid on a wound that is much bigger.
In the movie, Joel tries to completely cut himself off from Clementine, but ultimately, she's ingrained so deep inside of him that he cannot let he go. When he meets her on a train, he finds himself attracted to her all over again. And, even as his memories of her start to disappear, he fights to keep them. He couldn't just erase her, because he didn't really want to be rid of her. Joel had to go through the pain of it all: Love can and often does go wrong, but with each relationship, we should always work to figure out why they were wrong for us. It prevents us from repeating those same mistakes.
This idea of letting go, whether that be a partner like in Eternal Sunshine, or a friend, a job or even some knick-knack, sort of benefits from Marie Kondo's take on tidying up, something that was all the rage in 2015. Kondo believes that when it comes to cleaning up your closet, your apartment, or even your life, you can't just throw it away, you have to say goodbye. Sure, it sounds a little silly to hug an item from a desk drawer and see if it sparks any joy inside of you, but that doesn't mean it's not a valid approach to figuring out what should be kept and what should would be thrown away as you prepare for the new year. The art of letting go is a process that takes time, and doesn't just happen with the push of a button.
Just like starting a new in 2016 isn't as easy as making a resolution.
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind is over a decade old, but the message of the film will never grow old — making it the perfect movie to start out 2016 by watching. It's about understanding yourself, and knowing who you are. It's something we all strive to do with each new year we ring in. But, this idea of a "new year, new you" is not about completely changing your life, it's about improving it. And often, that doesn't mean saying goodbye to someone or something, it's about figuring out why you no longer need those people or things in the first place. Perhaps, you still do. And, in that case, you must work through it — just like Clementine and Joel did.
Images: Focus Features; Giphy (3)