I concur with these words, as spoken by Maude: a sprightly character from my favorite 1971 cult classic film, Harold and Maude.
The plot revolves around a forlorn, drifting young man named Harold, and an ebullient, young-at-heart octogenarian named Maude. In short, Maude inspires Harold to break free of his dull existence and to learn to live life to the fullest.
After watching this movie, I realized… I am Harold.
Not in the sense that I lead an empty, dreary life. But rather, in the sense that I desire to live a rich, healthy life, full of travel and new experiences from which I can draw knowledge, wisdom, and even empathy for others. I aspire to be like Maude when I’m elderly; learned in life and the ups and downs that it brings, as well as the glimmer of goodness in every aspect and challenge that arises.
Prior to watching this film, I had longed to chance upon characters who could define who I am and who I want to become. Being able to identify with Harold and Maude was like finding the perfect label to a once unspecified canister. They are my point of reference, reminders of my self-realization and self-evaluation, and put into words and evident visuals the abstract notions of who I was and how I wished to modify my character.
Since Harold and Maude is a slightly older movie starring established actors/actresses, and makes reference to time-worn music, movies, and historical events, the film also acted as a catalyst in developing and expanding upon my suppressed interests in Silver Screen movies and music from decades past.
Up until this point, I had shoved aside my true tastes and pretended that I did not enjoy them (all in the name of conforming). However, once I laid eyes on Harold and Maude, I delved completely into gems of the yesteryears (discovering new “old” artists, songs, and genres all the time), thus helping me to better understand my parents, many adults that I encounter, and more importantly, myself.
As cheesy as this may sound, it even brought me closer to my deceased grandparents.
There is one scene in the movie where Harold roams through an expansive, grassy cemetery, which looked extremely familiar, as if I’d been there before.
That was because I had.
The cemetery was the Holy Cross Cemetery in San Francisco as it looked in 1971. Many of my relatives are buried there. Of all of them, my grandparents are the most meaningful to me. In 2005, I was brought to this cemetery to attend my grandma’s wake/burial and to visit the grave of my grandfather.
It turned out that almost all of the scenes in Harold and Maude were shot on location in San Francisco. Knowing this only brought the movie closer to my heart.
Between vicariously re-connecting with my grandparents and embracing my true hobbies, I finally felt like I had found myself.
All thanks to Harold and Maude.