Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

Is Pixar’s “Up” about giving up?

June 9, 2009

Imagine a guy carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Family, work and the unexpected turbulence of life call for repeated sacrifices of time, energy, finances and passion. Dreams of youth, embraced with the vigor of certainty, over the years gently give way to a hopeful longing. Until, with the passing of his wife, they turn into scornful remorse of promises unkept.

Were the story not so pervasive, Pixar’s latest movie, Up, might just be another overly marketed animated film. But it’s not hard to see something of a Carl Fredrickson, the crotchety old widower, in each of us. [Warning: If you haven’t seen the film, what follows may be a bit of a spoiler.]

Ellie, Carl’s wife, meant the world to him. After her death, when faced with eviction from the home that held her memories, he sets out finally to pursue the dream they once shared; to have their home on the edge of Paradise Falls somewhere in South America. And he’s taking his house with him. Thousands of balloons affixed to the chimney turn it into a floating fortress for him and an unexpected stowaway, Russell, an enthusiastic young Wilderness Explorer seeking to earn his “aid the elderly” badge.

Eventually they hover within eyesight of Paradise Falls. Reluctantly, Carl drafts his tag-along to help him pull the house on foot, like a hot-air balloon in a parade, toward the distant fall’s shore. And therein lies a symbolic juxtaposition of a modern dad. Here’s a determined man—going somewhere—pulling everything he’s built with everything he’s got. Alongside him, a distractible and often irritating boy, far more interested in what’s around him than the destination. Watch a short scene from the movie.

I was that boy too often for my father. Like Russell, my restlessness and desire to explore were a source of consternation on our hunting and fishing trips. I’m that man too often now for my children. On excursions, like Carl, I frequently lock in on my timetable and have difficulty adapting to my family’s pace or their interest in enjoying the moment.

Fortunately, as with Carl, we can change. His change came when he discovered a note written to him in his wife’s dreambook. “Thanks for the adventure—now go make a new one.” Though Ellie never saw her dream of living on Paradise Falls, she nevertheless had her adventure fulfilled in the life journey she shared with Carl. That realization made a difference, not only because it changed Carl’s perspective on years gone by, but also because he could now be more present for a young, overly enthusiastic child, in need of a father. Do you have any of those living at your house?

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Nice Hat!

March 13, 2009

Some of the best memories I have of my Dad are the times when we started something with excitement, got half-way in, and then didn’t know whether we could salvage it from disaster. There was that woefully under-powered go-cart we built, named the “Chug,” assembled from a scavenged motor, a plank stolen from the basement shelves, and wheels bought at the hardware store. We were stumped when it came to rigging up the steering mechanism, and the assembly stopped. I was eleven, and an eager helper, but the engineering was way over my head. One night we were seated at dinner when my Dad jumped to his feet, shouted: “I know how we can do it!” and bolted down the basement stairs. I was on his heals, still swallowing my chicken casserole. There, with shafts, axles, and chunks of steel the basic geometry of our steering dilemma was solved. The next day we went to the welder for a few precision bends of the steel spindles, and progress resumed.

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