Archives For children’s movies

Remember Lewis and Clark?

I, like most of you in the United States read about them in American History classes growing up. I was taught a basic overview of their journey, primarily because I lived in the midwest where they traveled. It was as if they were bullet points in a textbook and I learned the following:

  • They covered a lot of ground in a boat
  • Met some Native Americans
  • Made it to the Pacific Ocean
  • Recommended to the President we go west.

Simple enough but there was little story, only bullet-points. In truth, I thought of them more as a punchline as used in the opening of the movie National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985) in the ridiculous Pig in a Polk quiz show opening scene.

Ten years ago, I read Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage (Simon & Schuster, 1997), the epic narrative about the American explorers Merriweather Lewis and William Clark. I loved studying history and even minored in it in college, but I had never read any book that was written more as a story prior to this one. It was as if the Lewis and Clark’s almost mythological story finally made sense and I could get the accurate picture of these two explorers as if they were in a movie. I could visualize their adventure, share in their ambitions, trials, frustrations, hunger, fears, joy, and even sadness. History became alive to me in their story.

Their story resonates with me today and is pushing me to ask my question,

“What do I need to discover?”

Last month I read a BBC article titled What Adventures Are Actually Left?. It was about how we may be approaching the end of “discovery”.  According to the article, genuine firsts are hard to find these days. The mountains have all been summited. With GPS, it is hard not to easily discover remote islands in the Pacific or visit Antarctica in the winter with modern technology. It seems as if the ocean and space are the last frontier and are largely undiscovered.

While there less “firsts” for man to discover, the battle for discovery of the heart is at stake for each individual. It is the never-ending adventure of man. We as man are not meant to give up so easily because we are made to reach for the next thing. Discovery-adventure is needed to grow culturally and spiritually. Each person has their own reasons and they real what is true to their heart. Here is one of my favorite.

March 18, 1923 issue of the New York Times. The headline was “Climbing Mount Everest is Work for Supermen.”

Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?” This question was asked of George Leigh Mallory, who was with both expeditions toward the summit of the world’s highestmountain, in 1921 and 1922, and who is now in New York. He plans to go again in 1924, and he gave as the reason for persisting in these repeated attempts to reach the top, “Because it’s there.

We may never know exactly what was at stake personally for Hillary but his tenacity to achieve such a feat shows that something deep within him was stirring.

I can come up with excuses all day long about why I don’t have time for this adventure and how there is never enough money. My wife and I don’t want to live life with any regret. I think that is why the Pixar movie, Up (2009), resonated so much with me. You watch the main character as a boy growing up to become an old man in the movie. His life, much like yours or mine was not easy and complete with all sorts of unexpected twists. It shows that all we have in life are excuses unless we move our lives into the intentional mode.

My wife and I have realized that if we don’t show our two daughters how to be adventurous, we will all get lost in life’s busy shuffle.

Lewis and Clark, Mallory, and the movie Up, all remind me to not to just “do things” but to do them with a purpose bigger than me. Do them because it matters. Not just to cross it off like a simple bucket list but for the purpose of a story to tell that matters for the ages. After all, God knows what true adventure is and his adventure flows from his story in The Bible. Our real adventure is with Christ and without his purpose, all of this is meaningless, a mere earthly thrill.

What is the adventure in your life?  

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs about adventure. My daughter’s faces were lit up when first hearing the song, Learn Me Right, by Mumford and Sons (featuring vocals by Birdy) in the movie, Brave (2012), It later became a sister song called Not With Haste in their new album, Babel, as well. I may even add it to My Funeral Mix.

I can’t get a job.

My candidate failed.

No one likes what I say.

Nothing is going my way.

She won’t do what I want.

I will never win.

I can’t do it.

These are all things I have heard in the past few weeks from friends, colleagues, my daughters, yes even from my mouth. My daughters get so frustrated especially when they can’t make something work. They scream “I can’t do it, Daddy” and literally are screaming. I have to remind them about how much I don’t like the word “can’t” and then try to help. Truth is, when I’m at work and catch myself being down about something at work or with friends. I’ve got a new name for negative talk and I have to remind myself of it each time I catch myself doing it.

In the movie, The Muppets (2011), the billionaire Tex Richman introduced the iconic anti-group,

“Meet the Moopets: A hard, cynical act for a hard, cynical world.”

The Moopets were everything anti from what the positive and loving Muppets are. They are negative personality of each character. They are cynical, they are bullies, they are dangerous, and only care about themselves. They are “cynical” as Tex Richman called them.

Cynicism is something that is so easy to conform to. The 2012 election sure proved that for us all. I had a discussion with a friend this week about when we feel like we can’t handle life’s circumstances, we suddenly become down about it. We complain. We blame. We hate. Then we are driving and see an “IGBOK” bumper sticker. “It’s Gonna Be OK.” My mom used to remind me of this when I was a kid and as I encounter more things in life, I remember her simple, yet profound wisdom that wraps so many car bumpers.

When Conan O’Brien’s fans were in revolt because he was losing The Tonight Show back to Jay Leno and the forces that be at NBC, here was his response.

All I ask of you, especially young people…is one thing. Please don’t be cynical,” O’Brien said. “I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.

Yes indeed, the cynics were shunned. Amazing things happen because you are suddenly free to go after what God really wants you to do. And what happens next?

Colossians 2:6-7 reminds us,

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Knowing what Christ did for us on the cross is enough to be thankful for.

Let’s give up the Moopets. Be a real Muppet and be thankful.

Wocka wocka