I’m not a huge movie buff, but there are certain films that make a pretty significant impression on me – often because of the theme or depth of the story line; but more often because of one or two things a character says at a pivoting point in the movie.
One such example comes to me from the movie City Slickers. For those of you who don’t know the film well, it is about three good ‘city’ friends, fairly young men who always dreamed of becoming cowboys and living the dream of the Wild Wild West when they were young boys.
I think it is in celebration of one of the friends’ 30th birthday, that they arrange a vacation out west to a real live dude ranch. The rest of the movie is the experience these friends have out on the ranch and the life lessons they return back to their everyday lives with.
In the film, one of the most memorable characters they meet is played by Oscar winner, Jack Palance, a man named Blackie in the film. He is the poster boy of the rough and tough cowboy they all wanted to be and feared at the same time.
Blackie also ends up being the ‘mentor’ and ‘teacher’ in the movie. At one point, he teaches Life 101 to the boys by telling them (don’t quote me) that he knows the key to happiness which is to find the one thing in life you want to be – AND DO THAT.
Anyway, this is the line in the movie that sticks out as being super significant to me. I have thought about it quite often considering it was only a flash in time in the middle of one movie that I’ve seen. But that concept keeps coming back to me.
I wonder first, how many of us believe this to be a key to success in life and happiness. The more I think about it, the more true it seems. I’m not saying it is the ONLY thing that can make a person happy, but since we spend so much time doing ‘work’ in our lives, if we can find the one thing that makes us happy, the one thing we truly want to do, and work out being able to do it, then, yes; I believe we have found a pretty good formula for happiness.
But, as with almost everything in life, there are conditions. The first “if” comes when we talk about finding the thing that we want to do in life. I don’t know about you, but it has taken me quite a long time to come direct – I mean face to face, direct, with the thing I want to do in my life where I have managed to work out doing it!
I don’t think I’m a rarity in this regard either. I think it take us a long time to become comfortable enough and accepting enough of ourselves to understand and know what it is we want to do with our lives.
Without going through a long sermon on this particular topic, basically it comes down to this. We may have a tremendous instinct as children as what we want to be in life, but as life happens all around us, we end up being extremely sidetracked from that dream most of the time.
Very few of us come from the type of environment where that childhood dream is nurtured and supported until it is ultimately fulfilled and becomes reality.
Sadly, too many of us come from an environment where we don’t dare even consider having a childhood or a dream at all. I have lived long enough to give testimony to that.
But even those of us who do recall their childhood dreams…well, perhaps John Lennon said it best when he sang to his son in “Beautiful Boy” and said ‘life’s what happens when we’re busy making other plans.’ So even when you may be fortunate enough to think you might know what you would like, you didn’t live life in a way that was devoted to making that dream happen.
I also am not so sure I believe that we have the same dream all our lives long. There are times we may experience new things in our lives that we like more or enjoy more than the one thing we used to think we would want to do. And what if we are already doing that one thing we thought we were meant to do and then discover that there is something we love more than that?
You get where I’m going with this, right? I loved Blackie and I think overall, his key to happiness was pretty much on the money. I just don’t know how realistic it is.
Having said all that, let me also say, that for those of us who fall into the category of the ‘many’ who do not get to dream or have normal childhoods or who find themselves doing things in their lives that have absolutely NOTHING to do with what they really love to do…Things change! And many time – for the better.
It may not happen early on in life – and we may get sidetracked and waylaid, but when you do find something that matters a lot to you – you CAN make it happen!
Don’t lose sight of what matters to you – EVER – and NEVER stop looking for ways to make the things that really matter work, because I promise you; it may not be exactly the way you imagined, but eventually, your dreams DO come true!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!