Oh Captain, My Captain!

20 01 2015


“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” – Whitman

This is my favorite quote recited in Dead Poet’s Society. The way some women describe that they are addicted to Romcoms is the same way I am addicted to movies about guys who wear their passion on their sleeves, don’t give a crap about what people think and follow their heart – Dead Poet’s Society, Moonrise Kingdom, The Fighter, hell, even Tootsie.

My kids are close to 14 and 12 and are at the perfect age for me to introduce them to some of the movies that really made an impression on me. I try to be careful because these “old” movies take a little persuading but as I build up my credibility, they inherently know they might like them and give me less of a hassle.

Lately, we have been on a Robin Williams kick so this fits right in. I also like to do my Mike Brady thing and talk about the “message” or “lesson” afterward, which lasts about 90 seconds before they are back on their iPhones. But, hey, 90-120 iPhone free minutes watching a movie together – I’ll take it.

The best comedians are poets. Poets are people who, when done beautifully, have imaginative and powerful ways of expression and conveying a message. The poem and the comedy set both are the tip of the iceberg. They serve simply as the part you witness, see and experience. Underneath it all, it is darker and murkier and has taken time to craft and produce what most only get to see from the surface.

The DVD (from the library, of course) of Dead Poet’s Society was sitting on my counter for about a week. Maybe it was a subliminal message to “Carpe Diem” but I finally decided to sign up for a boxing lesson this morning. Coincidence? Maybe. I am not a fighter as anyone who knows me can attest to. I am not athletic either and have found moderate success in sticking only to those pursuits where no one has to depend on me in a team environment – running, swimming, piano. (Yes, piano playing does make me sweat sometimes so I’m counting it in as this is my blog.)

That being said, I was always intrigued by boxing – the strategy and sheer resilience that it takes to physically and mentally keep yourself going. I hear it’s an amazing workout, too, so I figure it can’t hurt.

More than anything, I want my kids to know that it is ok to keep growing and learning. It is ok to not have it all figured it out. It is ok to decide that you want something different or find your own path, even later than others may have. It is ok to seize the day.

Until next time,



3 01 2015


“If you can take it, you can make it.”

I took my son to see “Unbroken” yesterday. It was a good film. i tend to be a harsh critic so I will focus on the story and not the nature of Hollywood. It was a great story, particularly since it was a true story. Throughout the movie, there were callbacks to advice given to a young Louis Zamperini by his older brother regarding his ability to accomplish goals – “if you can take it, you can make it.”

I think this was a pretty poignant message – particularly for a 13 year old boy to hear. Often times, at that age, the superheroes that enter their head space are in transition from the super friends of yesteryear to the Avengers and ultimately to hyped-up, testosterone infused alpha males found in a variety of Xbox games and similarly themed TV programs. The real heroes are those that have to choose between “yes and no” for the “if” part of the “if you can make it” proposition. They are people like Louis Zamperini or the protagonists in both “Patch Adams” and “Awakenings” – both films I also watched with my kids over the holiday break.

It is so difficult, at least or me, to keep imparting the importance of perseverance, even in the realm of failure (especially in the realm of failure) to growing minds without sounding like Mike Brady from the Brady Bunch. It is so important though. It was not lost on either of my kids that Robin Williams, who had to portray really resilient, strong characters in so many movies was not able to get on the other side of that “if you can take it” statement and he, unfortunately, did not make it.

In my own life, that is something that I am trying to do a lot better at. It isn’t uncommon to hear things like “I can’t take it anymore”, “I just can’t wait for this to be over” or “I’m sorry – I just can’t….”. Truthfully, in all those cases, the word “can’t” is just a weaker substitute for “won’t”. It is true what they say about adversity – you never really know what you are capable of doing, what you really “can” do, until you are pushed and it’s a pretty great feeling when you realize you did “make it” after all.

Luckily, many of these challenges aren’t as severe as being lost at sea for 45 days or being tortured as a POW. They are daily challenges that seem to last forever but ultimately do or will come to an end and that really do make us stronger in the end. In my case, they make for some new comedic premises, also – not a bad thing.

Remember – you  CAN take it and you WILL make it.

Until next time,


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