Julie and Julia Overcome the “Spell of the Typical”


Change in our lives often serves as catalyst for self-evaluation. In Julie & Julia, Julie is turning thirty. She and her husband move to an economical apartment in Queens. Having failed to achieve the level of success most of her college friends seem to enjoy, Julie is slogging away at her unfulfilling government job. She has allowed the rejection of a half written novel to deter her from pursuing her passion for writing. Julie realizes she needs to “break the spell of the typical” in her life. (Thank you Mutemath for such a fitting phrase.)

Julie decides to try blogging and, since she loves to cook, decides to cook through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blog about it. Julia Child began cooking in France as a result of a similar desire to find something fulfilling to do. When Julia’s husband asked her, “What is it that you really love to do?” She responded “Eat,” and that led her to cooking school… Julie & Julia chronicles the journeys of Julie Powell and Julia Child as each woman discovers what it means to find her passion.

Settling for the typical is an aspect of the sin of Sloth. Julie and Julia feel its weight and resist. So often the demands of paying the bills and meeting the schedules seem to draw us into routine and divert us from pursuing what we really love. We think we lack the means, the talent, or the time to pursue our dreams. Some of us are too afraid of failure to try. We listen to every objection and, sometimes when there are no obvious objections, we invent them. Sloth suggests that all we are fit for is mediocrity and we listen.

Julia’s strength as a cooking student was her fearlessness and her love for food. Years later that fearlessness inspires Julie to step into her kitchen, open Julia’s book, and follow the directions. In a recent Dallas Morning News article Julie says, “Julia was a force of nature. The essence of what Julia taught me is how to live in a different way. Nothing is impossible. Confront your fears, acknowledge them and carry on.”

All of us possess a set of skills, talents, and desires. If we are willing to work through our fears and develop our skills and talents, we all can dare to chase our dreams. Julie’s daily ritual of cooking and writing created a discipline in which she was able to develop the confidence and the skills that helped her “break the spell of the typical.” When we are caught in the spell we settle. We settle for unfulfilling careers and stagnant relationships. Julie & Julia presents two women in refreshingly supportive marriages who get up every day and find a way to do what they love regardless of the obstacles.

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