Tuesday, September 27, 2011
One of my favorite movies from my impressionable teenage years was TOP GUN with Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan and other notable actors. Reflective of the times we lived in the movie centers around a Navy fighter pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise) who struggles with ghosts from his past and feels he has many things to prove. He is good and pushes the envelope in his flying to tempt the fates and thumb his nose at danger. He feels immortal, invincible, and on more than one occassion places himself and others in danger because he feels he can come out on Top. Cheat Death.
He cannot. In the blink of an eye, a routine fighter plane move exercise move turns deadly and he looses his best friend "Goose" after having to eject from the F14.
Mavericks world just turned on him and he is left with a sense of deep sorrow and guilt, second guessing himself and his whole apprach to flying.
And it cripples him.
Life is like that scene for many of us. As I reflect on my early childhood years, it seems as if I was a spectator in this thing called life, secure in my own little bubble and watching the world move around me in its busyness and routine. I did not have to concern myself with the cares of the day as I had parents who did that for me. I was simply allowed to exist. Of course as we grow older we start taking a more active part in life and all the responsibilities that come along with that. We learn a few things in school, apply them in a job, start relationships and have families, finance mortgages and auto loans, get involved with civic functions or church or politics or all of the above, and before we know it we are fully involved in life. Not sure how that all happened but we are in no longer merely observing it hapenning around us, but are fully involved in the dog fight.
and to be fully involved means taking risks. and like Maverick sometimes those risks are very costly to us and knocks us down for a while. We know longer carry that fighter pilot swagger we once had, and approach life a little more cautiously, a little less vulnerable to lessen the inevitable pain we will more than likely feel again at some point. To soften the blows of a hardened world that, with one mistake in a routine exercise in your day, is waiting to deal you a blow that'll take your wings and keep you grounded.
A later scene has Maverick with a new copilot and they are ordered to the Mediteranian Sea to help other American pilots who are engaged with enemy pilots in a dogfight. As they launch from the aircraft carrier and proceed to the dogfight Maverick is aware of the ghosts that haunt him. He is rehearsing life in his head. As they approach the dogfight from a distance they can see the mayhem and manuevering of all of the engaged aircraft and Maverick decides to not engage. He sees the ugliness and decides not to risk it, leaving his comrades in peril and certain death as they are outnumbered. Mavericks copilot starts yelling over the intercom "GET IN THERE MAVERICK" over and over and finally Maverick decides that its worth the risk and enters the fight, and of course comes out on top.
Often we've been attacked and hurt and wounded so deeply that we would prefer to "set this one out" or not engage. Its too risky. We prefer to watch from the sidelines. We may even gear up but set on the bench the whole time. Our fear of whatever is debilitating.
My encouragement for you today if you find yourself in this place is to slowly re-engage. Life is meant to be lived, not observed. Yes doing so may make you open to more risks in life, you may find yourself in a few scary situations, you may feel vulnerable... But you may also feel ALIVE, LOVED, and maybe, just maybe, will get a little of that swagger back in your walk.
GET IN THERE MAVERICK! (or whatever cool pilot name you have for yourself)