Life Lessons From Nora Ephron, Queen Of The Rom-Com

What do You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally all have in common (other than Meg Ryan)? Nora Ephron. As queen of the rom-com, she wrote all three screenplays as well as directed You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle.  But Nora did so much more than write classic romantic comedies.

She was a journalist and feminist actively voicing her always witty and often poignant observations on the world through her writing. Her repertoire is varied; she wrote on everything from political topics, such as George Bush and the Iraq war, to more personal memories of life as a young journalist, her passion for cooking and growing old.

As a mentor to Lena Dunham prior to her passing in 2012, she shared her wisdom with a like mind. In a touching tribute in the New York Times, Lena said, “The opportunity to be friends with Nora in the last year of her life informs the entirety of mine.”

Life Lessons From Nora Ephron (Queen Of The Rom-Com & So Much More) - the Lala

And since we’re not all quite as lucky as Lena to have known her, here are some life lessons from Nora Ephron.

On Humor: 

“My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have the potential to be comic stories the next.”

“When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you; but when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it’s your laugh. So you become the hero rather than the victim of the joke.”

On Love: 

“I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Years Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”  -When Harry Met Sally 

“You make a million decisions that mean nothing, and then one day, you order take-out, and it changes your life.”  -Sleepless in Seattle 

“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together…and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her.”  -Sleepless in Seattle 

On Life: 

“What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications.”

“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope you choose not to be a lady. I hope you find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” –Commencement Address, Wellesley College, 1996 

Thanks for the insight, Nora.

Caitlin Benner

Contributor, Purdue University Grad Her heart belongs to: Her hilarious husband, Caleb, her cat, Giselle (named after the Disney princess in Enchanted), her family, and coffee. She's 90% water and 10% caffeine...and also a huge Gilmore Girls fan. Take her away to: Walt Disney World

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