The Graduate, Directed by Mike Nichols
Embassy Pictures, December 21, 1967 (US)
Screenplay: Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, based on the novel by Charles Webb
Starring: Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross, and William Daniels
“Hello darkness my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again”
-from the Simon and Garfunkel song, “The Sounds of Silence”
I am not sure where else to turn. I find myself reading your column a lot lately, combing it over for tidbits of sage wisdom that I can siphon and apply to my own predicament. Or, predicaments. Sometimes, I get lucky and think I’ve spotted the needle in the haystack. But when I try and grab it, it suddenly gets lost with all the other advice that is piling up in my increasingly crowded lot of confusion. My parents. Their friends. Neighbors. The neighbor’s neighbors. Why is it that everyone has all the answers but me?
You see, ever since graduation, things have gone from bad to worse. The only relief I can find of late seems to be when I am adrift (in my mind/in my room/underwater in the pool). When a sea of silence surrounds me and I am no longer forced to listen to anything at all, I find peace. When I come back up for air, it all returns.
It is an age old question. What to do with my life? For me, it seems like there isn’t just a fork in the road, but a ridiculous maze, ugly options, and every time I think I’m ready to take a blind leap in the direction of any one of them, I get an overwhelming sense of doom. Each path is littered with red flags. I mean, plastics? Is this really the culmination of my once limitless destiny?
I guess we never think about waking up. It just happens. But what if it happens before you’re ready, like when you wake up too soon from the most amazing dream? At times—too many times—I wake up so abruptly and am left with nothing but an intense craving that is beyond anything I’ve ever hungered for before. It is often entirely sexual in nature. Without revealing too much, I must say that my sudden surge in sexuality has only served to deceive, leading me down an alley in which I am now completely cornered. I am afraid that if I offer up all the sordid details, you won’t even respond. I wouldn’t blame you. So let’s just say that I have done some very bad things to people who are incredibly dear to me and leave it at that. To sum up, I fucked up. Forgive the language, but I know no other way to say it.
Worse yet, it doesn’t even end there. Love has blindsided me. And, due to the unrevealed choices that I have only alluded to earlier, I’ve managed to make a complete mess out of that too, destroying my only hope of happiness. She was perfect. I didn’t deserve her, and she certainly didn’t deserve what I (we) did to her. At any rate, thanks for listening.
-Lost in Space
“We’d like to know a little bit about you for our files
We’d like to help you learn to help yourself”
-from the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Mrs. Robinson”
Dear Lost in Space,
Where to begin? Plastics? I am not sure I understand that part, but it sounds like you have gotten yourself in quite a predicament.
Let me first suggest that I think your forays into silence can be both good and bad. We all need to find a quiet place at times in order to purge the voices in our heads if they begin to overwhelm perspective. But it is also good that you have written me. When things get this serious to the point of quiet (or not so quiet) desperation, it is absolutely vital that you not tune out your friends and family. Everyone needs a support system. Do not exclude them. I cannot stress this enough.
Without knowing all the details, it may be hard for me to pinpoint the perfect solution for you. But let me also suggest that life doesn’t always offer perfect solutions. But that does not mean we should just give up. In fact, the opposite is certainly true. Never give up. There is always a solution, however imperfect. But you will never find it if you throw in the towel.
When it comes to love, never underestimate the power of apology. Maybe she will never come back to you. That is her decision to make. But from the sounds of your letter, may I suggest that you tell her all that is in your heart before it is too late? And even if it is too late, you will never find solace unless you know that you have tried everything in your power to rectify the situation. In the end, as hard as it may be to accept, perhaps it was simply not meant to be. I know that is often the most difficult pill to swallow in this life, but there are some things that are completely out of our control. A tough lesson, I know. And also an example of the many times where that support system we surround ourselves with can help carry us through.
In the end, when it comes to love, life, your profession, and really, all the rest, it is only you that can find the answers that make sense. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but never stop following that which lives in your heart. The answers are in there somewhere.
I will be thinking of you, Lost in Space. I sincerely hope you find your way, and I hope it happens soon. And please do not hesitate to write again. You do not sound like a bad person. In fact, you seem like a very thoughtful and sincere young man. We all make mistakes. I think that you need to first find it in your heart to forgive yourself. It all begins with you. In the meantime, please know that I am pulling for you.