Thursday, November 05, 2009

Don't Throw it Away

I'm a big movie fan. I get so much out of the movies I love!

Seabiscuit is one of my all time favorites. A true story of a little horse that achieved what appeared to be impossible. It is also a story of three men, broken by life in different ways. The owner, trainer and jockey of Seabiscuit all lived through and overcame hard knocks in life. The four of them found salvation and redemption in each other, and in the success they found in racing.

One of my favorite lines in the movie, occurs on two different occasions.

"You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a bit."

Once the trainer says it about an old horse that he's decided to save from being put down.

The second time Seabiscuit's owner says it to the trainer, when they discover that the jockey is blind in one eye, and has been lying to them all along.

In both cases, the 'banged up life' is spared and given another chance. What a beautiful message.

Many years ago I was a counselor in a mental health clinic. I was working with a man who was a recovering alcoholic. He had a bad problem with perfectionism and self criticism. If something wasn't perfect, it was worthless. He felt that way about himself too. He came in one day and told me he'd built a flower box for his wife. He recounted that when he finished it, he saw that it wasn't perfectly square on one of the corners, and he flew into a rage. He took a sledge hammer and completely destroyed the flower box he'd built. Even in telling me the story, he felt he was 'justified' because it wasn't perfect.

As we discussed what had happened, I eventually asked him if he could tell me one good thing about the flower box. He thought for about 15 seconds, and a little light bulb came on. He looked at me and said, "It would have held dirt and flowers!" Bingo.

This world is quick to criticize and judge people on imperfections in appearance and behavior. While I'm a big believer in facing our 'stuff,' striving to improve ourselves and addressing our issues, I also believe that we need to learn to cut ourselves and each other some slack.

No one is perfect. No one ever will be. Often times people make big mistakes. Sometimes people fail repeatedly. Other times people have trouble recovering from big setbacks.

Nothing is so horrible that we can't come back from it. Nothing.

If you need a bit of encouragement to believe that... watch Seabiscuit!

"You don't throw a whole life away just because it's banged up a bit."