A Father’s Shadow

Twice have I gone to the theater to see the new film The Pursuit of Happyness and twice have I failed to get tickets. It’s the strangest phenomenon. The shows would be available while we are there on line, but would be sold out while we are just a few people away from acquiring our tickets. It wouldn’t just be the timing we wanted to see but also any showing within a reasonable time to wait for it.

If you haven’t heard about the movie, it seems to be doing rather well. I am not too familiar with the storyline, but I believe it is about a man and his son who are overcoming life’s obstacles after having suffered some kind of loss. I really can’t get any more specific (or generic) than that.

Now since I haven’t seen that movie, I can’t write about the impression the father made upon the son in his ability to always look ahead and set an example for the young one to follow. Instead I shall talk about the movie I did see when this one became unavailable the first time: Rocky Balboa.

Now don’t consider this a review so much as it is a commentary on some of the lessons brought about from this movie. I’ll try and keep the spoilers down to a minimum but will give some warning if I reveal something crucial to the plot. Though to be honest a lot of the movie was rather predictable. The beauty of it all was that it’s this little bit of predictability that further enhanced the viewing experience.

I will start out by saying that this was a far more satisfying conclusion to the Rocky series than the fifth movie. Something about the fifth one just seemed sad and depressing despite the ending. When Rocky Balboa ended however, I couldn’t help but feel that the series had been put to rest in a classy way and stayed true to the Rocky image.

One of the interesting dynamics that appeared in the movie was the ever developing relationship with Rocky’s son. Now here is a fair warning. Below this point the article will have scattered spoilers. If you haven’t seen the Rocky movies and wish it all to remain a surprise, then just scroll to the bottom and write a comment about what a fantastic article I wrote. Come on, spread the love.

There have been many great men in our history who have done things that were nothing short of extraordinary. However what of their children? Have the mother and father cast such a great shadow that the child cannot hope but to only measure themselves against their parent’s peak? While it wasn’t the main focus of the Rocky movie, it certainly did play a role in it.

When the father is a great businessman who has affected many lives, the eldest child often feels that it is their duty to follow and build upon the legacy left behind. Yet often times it is still true that the eldest feel they cannot compare and thus pursue a different walk of life altogether.

Now in this movie the son of Rocky decided to have what looks like your average humdrum job working at a firm he could care less about. The dissatisfaction upon his face regarding the work was rather obvious. But even more obvious than that was how distraught the son felt about living in his father’s shadow. Rocky Balboa remained a respected man of the city even after he lost his money and retired from his profession while the son was merely nothing more than ‘the son of Rocky.’

In a previous article I mentioned how easy it was to blame ones problems on someone else and use them as the scapegoat for their ever growing misery. I was pleasantly surprised when this movie developed a sub-theme around this topic.

A conversation come up when Rocky’s son blamed Rocky for all the problems and inadequacy he felt in his life. It even went so far that the son called Rocky an embarrassment for pursuing his passion at such an old age and because of it, it was hurting the son’s life. What happened next inspired me for days to come. I will post a quote from the movie that truly got me thinking and had inspired me. It has become the topic of discussion with my visiting family members and so I thought it would great an interesting discussion here.

Now before I post it, here is another spoiler warning. If you didn’t believe me the first time, you should believe me here lest I spoil the dramatic climax of this conversation. Seriously, if you don’t want me to ruin it, stop reading. Close your eyes and open them again when I tell you to.

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!”

Wow. It gets me every time. Personally I think it is true. No matter what you do and who you are, life is always going to come at you with full force and fury. This phrase reinforced my belief that you cannot change the events that brought you to your present course of life but you can control your attitude and response to them.

Sadly I think too many people believe what they have is the best that they deserve. For myself at least I know this is not the case. I can’t tell you why. I have no witty response or joke to explain my confidence in this manner, I just know something better is there waiting for me. I just have to work towards it.

My favorite part of this particular quote is “But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done”

The reason for that is so many people tell you to get back on the horse after falling down. I find that to be a dangerous and incomplete quote. You can get back on the horse and never do more than just sit on it or perhaps take it for a little gallop since you are still held back by your own fear. But the point I think Rocky was trying to get across is that when you get back on the horse, you have to fly like the wind and truly prove to yourself that your mind holds no limitations set by your own fears. In my opinion these are the people who truly think. But my opinion only matters so much.

Usually when I want other people’s opinion I give it to them, but in this case I shall ask for it. Is this how you view winning? Do you feel that not everyone who stands back up ever lives up to their full potential? Do the children of great men truly have bigger shoes to fill or just a different set of challenges to fill? Enquiring minds want to know what you think. Mainly mine.

By the way, for those of you who have closed your eyes, now would be a good time to open them.

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