Some 3 decades after it was filmed, I finally watched the 1980’s movie “Say Anything.” It was adorable in the 80s way–sweet, non-complicated, hidden twist, and young love–without anything blowing up or me needing to go on Google to search something that leads to one big twist that I typically don’t understand nor want to. Living with cancer, I need the soft stuff to help cushion my shredded barrier that once kept the “oh that would never happen to me” away.
This morning I’m thinking about the movie, and how the boy was so nice, and the girl was so sweet, and how they were just trying to be good to each other. Without the cheating, the lying, the immaturity and the teen angst that is the reality of life outside the computer/movie screen. And I think I am focusing on that not because I think a “Say Anything”-style love can be achieved (I know a few who’ve been together since high school, but a spare few. It’s not typical of marriage in the 21st Century) but because as a child and in my teens I really WAS thinking, ‘Oh that’s gonna happen to me!’ The good stuff, of course, just the good stuff.
As I grew up, I was very romantically immature. I wouldn’t have known how to let down a guy if he was sitting on a stair chair at the top of the stairs and there was just one button to push. I hurt a lot of guys by never being able to properly explain myself or even knowing what my real reasons were; mostly I just turned and fled. NOT a good game plan. But it was the only one I knew.
As I look down the road of “Who Knows What’s Gonna Happen” I feel the urgent need to fill in some of these blanks with my kids. No one uses movies and books as a source of reality–at least not on their outside. But on the inside, things were always brewing in my mind. I never talked about it, but I’d be watching flicks thinking ‘Maybe my news director, who’ll look like Robert Redford, will guide me from being a small producer to a big-time anchor! Or.’.. maybe a guy will chase me from high school graduation all the way until I go to college; and along the way, he’ll save me from myself and be the most trustworthy guy in the world! ‘ (I had a guy when I was 29 literally jump off a porch, chase me down and romance me so hard over 3 weeks that I broke up with the guy I had just started dating. Guess what? 3 weeks later, that guy dumped me for his old girl friend. Now there’s a fairytale.)
So I’m the one that, when my kids would watch Cinderella would say as the credits rolled “Now remember guys, that’s a movie. It’s words someone wrote on a (then) piece of paper. And those voices are actors. Life doesn’t work like that.” And back then I’d throw in an age-appropriate kicker, like “you have to know someone” or “it’s hard. It just is. And some stuff makes no sense.”
That of course rolled into, “what is the point of life, anyway, Mum? What are we doing here?”
And I would always, to this day, answer them like this:
“Life is about giving out your gifts. I don’t know what they are, and at this point you may not have discovered them either. But you have gifts, from learning and sharing you gift of music, to bringing a smile to a sad person’s face by just acknowledging them when you walk into a room, to maybe being the best doctor, business owner, teacher, tennis coach, –whatever. And you have many more, too. Life goes forward. Not backward. You don’t look back and say “I should have..” You say, “I think I’m read for…” and then DO IT.”
And never give up. There’s my affinity for Winston Churchill coming out again, because that’s his quote. But many use it. Many look into the low end of a toilet bowl as they are letting go of whatever is in there because of chemotherapy and between each wretch think “I can’t give up. I still have gifts to give.”
You can imagine the conversations that happen in my house. I don’t have them often because it’s pretty heavy over here under our roof these days. But there’s no time like the present as someone said, and for me the blessing is that I still have a present to be in. And I’m gonna “be” as long as I can, still seeking out the gifts I’m supposed to be giving while I’m here.
I hope you have that same game plan in mind for your many years to come.