When I was growing up, I wanted to be an amputee who ran across Canada.
Not if you’re a 9-year-old boy who was inspired by watching The Terry Fox Story on HBO. Fox was a runner who lost his leg – and eventually his life – to osteosarcoma. After his amputation, he attempted a run across Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
After watching the inspiring 1983 film, I laced up my shoes and started running up and down our cul-de-sac.
I won’t go as far to say that I wanted to be Terry Fox – but for three or four trips up and down our block – I wanted to be …. an amputee who ran across Canada.
Needless to say, I was easily influenced by movies.
When I was growing up, I also had fleeting moments when I wanted to be a warp-speed pilot opposing the Galactic Empire (Han Solo – Star Wars); I wanted to be a tuxedo-wearing spy with cool little gadgets (James Bond – Never Say Never Again), and I wanted to be a unassuming martial arts expert with a tournament-winning crane kick (Daniel Russo – The Karate Kid).
Each time, these dreams were short-lived, and I quickly went back to being an impressionable adolescent kid.
Well, 30 years later, I’m proud to say that things haven’t changed much.
I recently saw the wonderfully great movie Chef. It’s a Jon Favreau film about “a chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.”
I walked out of the theatre with focus, determination and a list of things that I wanted to be. The only difference between now and 30 years ago…I didn’t leave the theatre and feel inclined to start cooking a Cuban sandwich or open a food truck.
This movie inspired me in other ways. It made me want to be…
A Good Dad
Favreau’s character is trying to be a decent father in the midst of professional chaos and turmoil. He finally sees the light, but it takes a cross-country adventure with his 10-year-old son to flip the switch.
Bottom line: He finally realizes where his focus should be – on his family.
For me, it was a wonderfully great reminder. My family IS my No. 1 priority, but it never hurts to receive a small whisper – “don’t forget it – don’t’ ever forget it.” I have to remain intentional about putting an emphasis on my wife and kids – no matter what the circumstances are in the rest of my life.
This film also made me want to be…
A Solid Role Model
There is an amazing scene in the middle of Chef where Favreau pulls his son aside and gives him a life lesson about finding your passion and taking pride in what you do. It was game-changer in the movie and in their relationship.
For me, it was another reminder of my most important job: Being a father. (Not a marketing consultant…not a real estate agent…not a writer.)
I have four eyes that are constantly watching what I’m doing, and four ears listening to what I’m saying.
I recently told someone: “I don’t want to be rich and/or famous…I just want to make sure my kids have every opportunity to be successful and they don’t end up being ax murderers.”
In order to accomplish this goal, I can’t shy away from those precious teaching moments. Actually, I need to embrace them like Chef Casper did in the film. (Confession: I hope I have the exact same discussion about passion and pride with my son when he’s older.)
Chef also made me want to be a….
Favreau’s character got knocked down several times in the movie, but every time, he got up, dusted himself off and kept fighting.
He never felt sorry for himself or played the victim card. He fought and fought until he got where he wanted to go. (At one point in the movie, he did admit he felt lost, but the lovely Scarlett Johansson told him, “That’s a good place to start.”)
On a completely different level, I’ve been knocked down recently – but I continue to fight my butt off. A lot of that goes back to my family, and my refusal to them down.
As I dust myself off each time, I think back to my recent marathon, more importantly the conversations I had with my inner demons. On that record-breaking day, I told myself over and over again: “Don’t. Stop. Fighting.”
I have to remember that in every day life, it’s the same premise. If you quit, you can’t AND won’t “win.” BUT if you keep fighting – no matter the circumstances – you never know what will happen.
Most of the time, just like in this movie, it turns out to be pretty amazing.
Finally, this film made me want to be…
Again, I don’t want to cook anything or open a restaurant, but a chef has some distinctive characteristics that I want to carry over to my writing.
In an interview about the film, Favreau said:
There are some characteristics that are prevalent among chefs: They are strong, creative and they have an individual identity. There’s also a little bit of an OCD quality that’s pretty prevalent. There’s a competitive spirit. Ultimately, their sense of accomplishment comes from the appreciation of others. As a chef, you’re tying your happiness into the pleasing of others.
That’s exactly what I want to do when I write a blog post.
That’s what I want to eventually accomplish with my books.
When I walked out of that movie theatre, my fire to write had been officially stoked.
NOW… the key is to build on that vigor and excitement. Remember: After four trips up and down my street as a 9 year old, my dreams of being a Canadian amputee faded away.
Not. This. Time.
This blog is now officially my “food truck,” and it’s time to start “cooking.” (Cue the amazing things!)
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Thank you to Jon Favreau for making an inspiring, fun and entertaining film. Thanks to my friend, Courtney, for the recommendation to go see it. Props to my cousin Erin, who actually worked on the movie. Really proud of you!