Lessons from Les Mis

Photo by Steven Depolo
Photo by Steven Depolo

I’d been to cinema three times to see Hollywood’s production of Les Miserables, Victor Hugo’s tale of several interconnecting lives, including an ex-convict’s search for redemption and a generation’s pursuit of happier times amid political turmoil.

It inspires me every time. I’ve heard complaints of how melancholy the story is. But I don’t see that. There is so much more in the bigger picture. And I’d like to share this with you.

Les Miserables offers lessons that we can take with us through life, and our journeys with fibromyalgia, depression or whatever it is we contend with.

Consider these noteworthy points I’ve been reminded of from the awesome story that is Les Miserables.

What say you? (SPOILER ALERT)

Consider: Dreams give our lives meaning and fuel us when we tire. Some of them may not come to pass, but they are so precious, it’s a sin to waste dreams. In other words, why bother having dreams if you don’t endeavour towards them?

Favourite Les Mis moment: When the revolutionary students rebel against the monarchy even though the odds are stacked against them.

Consider: Living with love in our hearts, and acting on it can contribute to our healing and that of others.

Favourite Les Mis moment: The Bishop’s love and kindness positively transforms ex-convict Valjean.

Consider: Finding true love can sometimes give us a new lease on life. It can fill our vacant hearts, lift us up and even help us grow and flourish as individuals.

Favourite Les Mis moment: Cosette finding love and happiness.

Consider: No matter how good or decent you think you are, the ability to forgive marks a truly extraordinary and good heart. And in the end this is necessary to live a genuinely happy, healthy life. You’re not really healthy if you’re bearing grudges. It’s like you’re a bird trying to fly with boulders on your wings. Need to drop those boulders hunny. I hear you saying ‘I’m not healthy with fibromyalgia or … anyway.’ Well, even if you already live with a chronic illness, bearing grudges makes you more sick!

Favourite Les Mis moment: When the Bishop forgives an undeserving Valjean, who learns about true forgiveness. He later practises it by forgiving Javert.

Consider: “There are storms we cannot weather” sings Fantine whose life is plagued by many troubles and heartaches. And it is true. Some trials we cannot endure. But dammnit, I say if we’re going down, go down fighting. Don’t just give in to whatever it is you’re facing. No way I’m letting anything rob me entirely of what I want in this life, however hard it may be. Don’t you either.

Favourite Les Mis moment: Fantine despairs and is in the pits, but even still, perseveres however she must to provide for her young daughter.

Consider: Even if the odds are against you, one can face a battle with courage when one isn’t alone. Holding hands and supporting eachother makes all the difference, regardless of the outcome.

Favourite Les Mis moment: They were abandoned by their frightened fellow Parisians on judgement day, but the young friends refused to leave eachother when death and defeat approached.

Consider: Times might have changed. Men might have changed. But we don’t have to change. We can continue to be kind and loving and caring towards our fellowman, even if it is not reciprocated. This is what sets us apart. Let your life be a beacon, even the cold hearted will have to acknowledge it.

Favourite Les Mis moment: When Valjean saves Fantine. Though he was tormented by demons, Valjean later lived a life of selflessness and kindness towards others.

Consider: Whatever transpires in this life, whatever pain, sorrow and burdens we bear, there is hope. Hope for peace. Why? Because there is life after death. You might beg to differ depending on your personal beliefs but this is a strong, resonating theme for me. Fantine and many others carry extraordinary burdens in their lives. Many of them die untimely, tragic deaths. But in the end, they find peace, and there is joy. Tell me that doesn’t move you too.


What does any of this have to do with living with fibromyalgia, depression or chronic illness you say? Everything!

Everything is connected and intertwined in this universe, whether or not we accept it. Ultimately we must push ahead to make the best of our lives, however we can, whenever we can. There might be limitations on our health, wellbeing and in our relationships, so we can only control what we can. We can control who we are and who we become.

We can choose to remain or become beings and transmitters of love, kindness and goodness. Don’t believe them when they say it doesn’t make a difference. For all that goes wrong in this world, even the smallest act of love and kindness goes a long way.

Gentle hugs:)

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