Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Without Limits

About a year ago I started to watch the movie "Without Limits" which is based on the life of Steve Prefontaine, American record holder in the 5000 meters. I did not finish it, but knew that it was going to be worthy of a place on my list. I finally was able to finish it and while it would have been good to watch it a year ago it would not have had the same impact on me that it did tonight. Pre, as he was called, was never one to win a race the conventional way and rejected any other way to win besides giving it everything from the beginning. His style of running was quite distinct from that of his competitors, as was his way of looking at life. Some considered him to be stubborn and unwilling to change. He saw himself as unwilling to compromise his belief in himself.
During the movie he falls in love with Mary, who attends the same university and insists that he is not her type. At one point after he shows his optimism about their relationship she says, "Are you always this positive about everything?" To which he replies, "Consider the alternative." This exchange really brought to my mind something I've been thinking about lately which is: What is the purpose of life? Is it merely to avoid pain and displeasure? Are we here with the point of just not dying or living as long as we can? The answer in my opinion is of course not. The meaning of life is not just to avoid pain but to have joy. It should not be the difficult, perhaps depressing or stressful times that define our lives. Our lives should be made out of a pursuit of "the better". Consider the alternative. If we live our lives only trying to not be hurt, sure, we will occasionally be happy, but overall important parts of life will be missed. Being positive and believing in oneself lends to a life full of amazing events, as it did in the life of Pre. He always looked to better himself and with that outlook he often succeeded.
Near the end of the film Pre's coach Bill Bowerman talks about his how Pre helped change his coaching philosophy. He says, "He finally got it through my head that the real purpose of running isn't to win a race. It's to test to the limits of the human heart." Another life metaphor can be drawn here as well, with life being the race we are all running. The purpose should not be just to finish, or even to finish first, but to put everything in to living as passionately and intentionally as possible.

On a personal aside, this past year, I have run a bad race, and have done very little by way of living intentionally. Passion has not run through my veins as it once did, which may have been evident in my posts. This movie now came at the right time to challenge my current way of living and remind me of ideals that I still keep guarded inside.
My hope, as always, is that we may all live passionately, and continue to be inspired by life around us.

Monday, April 20, 2009


It has unfortunately been about 6 months since I've felt truly inspired. I have hated not being able to feel the emotion that drives my soul. Recently I've discovered some feelings and causes of those feelings, and have made some decisions to alleviate my inner turmoil.
During my life-change I received an e-mail from one of my favorite professors from my Masters program. It contained a video that he said reminded him of me. The message and the video truly inspired me again and revived feelings that had been buried. For that I want to thank Tom. I needed to be revived so that I could actually do what I am supposed to in life.

The ingenuity and amazing talent these two have is awesome. How did they figure out they could do this?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I just realized that after having this blog for a while now I have not written about my favorite book and the one that for me has been the most impactful. I think at first I wanted to save it until I could really do it justice and then just forgot that I had not done it yet. The time has come and while that time is not today I will be writing about The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho tomorrow. I expect everyone to eagerly be waiting for my post and as such will try to write it early in the morning. Til tomorrow...

Bedtime Stories

My wife and I recently saw the movie Bedtime Stories which we feared would be just another Adam Sandler movie. I tend to like Adam Sandler movies and we were in the mood for something light hearted and perhaps a little crass. The movie instead turned into a wonderful tale of right versus wrong in a world of smug, demeaning jerks.

The plot of the movie follows the life of Skeeter, the son of a hotel owner who raises his son to imagine and dream. Skeeter's father ends up losing the hotel, though Skeeter is allowed to keep working there as a handyman with the forgotten promise of the buyer of one day being allowed to run the hotel. Skeeter is hard-working and delightful with the hotel guests, much unlike the rest of the hotel staff who see themselves as much better than him. His sister is forced to go out of town to look for a new job and she asks him to tend her two young children. The fun comes when Skeeter tells his neice and nephew a bedtime story which comes true the following day. He then tries to use the stories as a means of getting his desired position at the hotel. Things don't go exactly as he plans which is expected in an Adam Sandler movie.

Again I will not ruin the movie for anyone, but do want to talk about why I find this movie to be inspiring, which surprisingly is more than just the fact that Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" plays through several scenes in the movie. Skeeter is pleasurable and works hard to be kind and helpful to those around him. He is given the chance to become great and while he tries to take the easy route, ends up learning that he must act and do something in order to make great things happen.

As a side note, Jonathan Pryce who plays Skeeter's father, also acts as narrator for some of the movie. Those of you who know me well are aware of my feelings about narrators. Rarely have I met a movie with a narrator that I did not like.