Anyone trying to get me to steer clear of a movie typically needs to only mention two things -- “animation” and “3-D.” Neither rings my bell. And since I’m not a parent, I’m not prone to get cajoled into it by a youngster’s hopeful eyes.
But hey, we’re in the middle of two powerful astrological eclipses, oil continues to blacken the Gulf of Mexico, temperatures in the Northeast are scorching and unemployment in our nation is downright scary. I figure it won’t be all that earth-shattering if I darken the door of a matinee showing of Toy Story 3.
But it kind of was. OK, maybe not earth-shattering, but it certainly put me in a life-pondering place.
As I sat in a blessedly air-conditioned theater, I got schooled by a bunch of toys in lessons of love, loyalty, friendship, passing the torch, and teamwork. There were also close-ups of evil, hell, manipulation and abandonment. Throw in a little karma thread (Yes, I’m talking to you, Lotso) and, well, you’re bound to come out thinking about your own life and what’s happening in the world.
I confess I’m out of touch with children’s entertainment these days, but perhaps they can easily handle the emotional ride of a film like this for the same reasons they handle roller coasters better than most adults. They’re a bit removed because their thinking – or over thinking – hasn’t evolved to the point of emotional overload, fear or neurosis. As grownups, we’re bringing perspectives ranging from a sense of adventure to a state of paralysis.
In other words, I was on the edge of my seat several times because I was heavily invested in the characters and couldn’t imagine how they would escape danger. Fraught, but somehow hopeful and optimistic -- I suppose that’s my default in trying situations and it’s what I projected on to Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie and the gang. Wow. Color me pleasantly surprised by my animation experience.
A nice afternoon of entertainment on one hand, but my takeaway is a little more complicated. As a life coach whose tagline is “Connecting you to your creative core,” I am all about people harnessing their creative gifts and sharing them with the world. Sometimes actually making a living with those gifts is challenging, but those that do are some of the happiest people around because they feel like they are living fully.
After watching a creation like Toy Story 3, seeing the credits roll with so many names of folks who specialize in areas that made the project sparkle, for some reason my mind went to how many of our citizens are unemployed. I know it’s utopian, but couldn’t we alleviate a chunk of that if people focused more on their gifts? I mean laser focus, like this is what I was put here to do and I’m not going to stop until I’m doing it to my fullest potential.
Some VH-1 Behind the Music viewing last weekend brought this point home. Jennifer Lopez’s parents encouraged her to study business after high school. She said she felt passionate about becoming an entertainer. Her mother said as long as she was living under her roof she had to play by her rules, so Lopez moved out and started studying dance. She worked hard and got steady work that led her to her breakout role in Selena. Even after that, determined to now go the singing route, she had to break with her manager to do so.
Christina Aguilera felt stifled by the folks at her record label who wanted to make her part of the shiny bubble gum set, so she broke out and made a gritty video that put her on a more authentic path. She went from being a sweet talent with outsized soul to a mesmerizing entertainer wearing everything -- pain, turmoil, sexuality, humanity -- on her sleeve.
Witnessing our fellow humans tapping into all of this passion and talent is heady, isn’t it?
Watching Toy Story 3, you just know the crème de la crème in this particular business – a.k.a. Pixar -- has collaborated on something special.
After much hand-wringing, panic and nasty twists, the toys eventually land in a place that brings them, and subsequently the viewer, peace. That kind of feels like my own path from gainfully employed to unemployed to struggling to fruitfully pursuing my passion. I wound up having to carve my own niche.
This is what I wish for all the people out there desperately trying to find work. If it doesn’t exist, create it. Trust. Stay open. Try things. Persevere. Follow your gut. You’ll like where you land.
Take it from the toys.