It’s Not a Choice….

In the movie “Patriot Games,” based on the book of the same name by Tom Clancy, there is a scene where the Ryan family is busy getting ready for the day.  They are making and eating breakfast in the kitchen.  The little girl, Sally played by Thora Birch, wants pancakes.  Her dad, Jack Ryan, played by Harrison Ford, gives her a choice of “toast or toast.”  I thought it was funny in the parameters of the movie…… but when put into real life….. It’s not a choice if there is only one option.

Have you ever had a situation where an employer or individual acts like they are giving you a choice but there is really only one option?  From the perspective of the person providing the non-option, they feel like they are being very generous.  From the perspective of the person who has no option, the situation feels like a trap.

At one time I worked for a large company that had a pretty good healthcare package.  One that you wouldn’t want to loose.  At the beginning of flu season they sent out a memo to all staff members that whomever did not get a flu shot would loose there healthcare plan if they took time off for having the flu.  (I don’t think what they did would be considered legal today.)  I had expressed concerns to my direct supervisor.  I have had allergic reactions to medicines and vaccines.  And several of my direct family members had had a reaction to this particular flu vaccine.  I was told to that I had to get it.  So I did.  I had a reaction to flu vaccine.  Not only did I have an allergic reaction (hospital visit which had to be paid for by the insurance)  but I then got sick with the flu.  The flu virus and allergic reaction had weakened my immune system to the point that I then got pneumonia.  I ended up missing three weeks of work.  Medicine, hospital visits, doctor visits, paid sick leave, and loss of an employee for almost a month all had to be absorbed between the insurance and the company.

Now I know that I am probably the exception to the rule in this case.  But the lost time, money, and energy because I was not given a choice was very disheartening.

So where was I going with all of this….. It is nice to have choices.  When working in a situation where one is part of a team, if the team members have choices, they feel like they are participating.  When negotiating or just being part of a relationship, options, choices and not feeling trapped build better relationships.

So what would you prefer? Whole wheat toast or white toast?

Be Bold

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”  -Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

I had written this quote in one of my old sketch books.  As I sat there reading this quote that I had so carefully written, I thought what does the word bold really mean.   From the dictionary definition off of the website being bold as a person is to be daring and brave.  A person may show how bold they are by climbing onto the roof of their house or speaking up when they see someone being treated unfairly.  By being bold  a person is taking some kind of risk; one could be risking physical danger, embarrassment, or their reputation.

This got me thinking about times in my life when I have behaved boldly.  Some of the trails that I have hiked made me feel daring and brave.  Art work that I have exhibited in solo and group shows has made me feel daring, nervous, brave and bold.  In each of these experiences I was taking on risk.

When hiking on the trail there were places that are very narrow and steep.  One miss step and I could fall to my death.  The risk is physical danger.

By exhibiting my artwork publicly, I am sharing person experiences or feelings expressed through contemporary narrative collage.  There is a risk of rejection or humiliation.  In this case the risk is embarrassment and possibly my reputation.

No matter what one does that is bold you are taking on risk.  It could be sharing poems about the death of your father; rock climbing without ropes; playing songs that you have written with your band in a night club; mountain biking in an endurance race in Michigan; standing up for the rights of a child who is to small to protect itself; writing a blog; traveling to a foreign country by yourself, and so much more.  Being bold is important.  It helps us stretch and grow as individuals.

Whatever it is that makes you feel daring and brave, don’t stop.  I need you to be bold.  Your family and friends need your boldness.  The community you live in cannot be innovative without people being bold.  The creative community needs you to be bold and share your work.  The world needs you to continue to be bold.  Why? you ask.  Because as Goethe says in the quote, “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”


On Being Brave

I was watching the movie “Justice League” the other night.  There is a scene in which Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and the Flash are about to go into battle with Steppenwolf.  The Flash pulls Batman aside and says something along the lines of (I am paraphrasing) it is great that you are all ready to go into battle but I’ve never fought anyone.  He goes on and lists several things he is afraid of (again I am paraphrasing) bugs, guns, drowning and grotesquely tall people.  Batman tells him to just rescue one person and that he (the Flash) would know what to do after that.

I found that this scene of the movie resonated with me long after the movie ended.  It is important because Batman is explaining how to get through moments of not knowing what to do or moments of fear.  He is explaining how to be brave.

“In order to achieve anything you must be brave enough to fail.” -Kirk Douglas

Being brave isn’t about conquering fear.  It is about recognizing it.  Facing it.  And yes, knowing you could fail.  Being brave is going forward recognizing that failure is a possibility.  The key is the still going forward.

So often we think of bravery as huge moments that confront you.  That bravery can only be found in matters of life or death.  I am here to tell you that being brave is definitely in those moments.  You know….the moments that make people heroes.

What you don’t hear about but is just as important are the smaller more subtle moments.  They may not be life or death, but being brave at these times are just as important.

For example: Being brave is daring to start a new career after being fired or let go.  Cooking a holiday dinner for your in-laws for the very first time.  Starting your own business.  Entering your artwork in a juried show.  Bravery can be found in the ending of a marriage or dating relationship that is unhealthy.  Performing your first solo piano recital.  Bravery is in the person who keeps going to work at a job where they are being bullied until a new job can be found, because they can’t afford to just quit.  Being brave is purchasing a home for the first time.  Sending your manuscript to a publisher.  Getting on the bicycle after falling down.  Hiking a trail that scares you because you are afraid of heights.

Being brave is knowing that you could fail but you push through the fear and go forwards.  Being brave is knowing that the odds may be stacked against you but you keep on going.

I just want you to know that you are brave.  Whatever it is that you are facing.  However hard it may seem.  Keep going.  Yes, you could fail.  But you can and will succeed.  Keep on being brave.

Captive State

If you have followed my blog for any length of time you know that I am a science fiction geek.  You also know that I have a tendency to only write reviews for documentary films.  There have been a couple exceptions over the years.  It is time to add “Captive State” to this exclusive list.  This film is an underrated science fiction gem.

Captive state 5

As with any good story, a key component is the characters.  The characters in “Captive State” are intriguing and compelling.  Ashton Sanders plays Gabriel Drummond.  Gabriel was a child when the aliens invaded and took over the planet.  He grew up in Chicago, one of the cities that have a closed zone.  The closed zone is where the aliens live.  Gabriel’s brother, Rafe Drummond played by Jonathan Majors, was part of a failed rebellion by a group called phoenix.

John Goodman plays the character William Mulligan a police officer.  Mulligan believes that the not all of the rebellion group phoenix were killed and has a theory about how to find them.

There are less prominent characters that have a big impact on the story.  Vera Farminga plays the part of a prostitute.  The marine who runs an electric repair shop.  The priest that no longer has a congregation.  The medical student who never finished medical school.  The newspaper man who submits the ads for the classifieds.  And so many more like this that may have a small role in the movie but a large purpose in this story.

Speaking of the story,  this one is pretty amazing the way it all ties together.  Without saying too much and giving things away, each scene seems to flow into the next.  It is seamlessly filmed.

The movie begins with a family trying to get out of a city.  They drive through a barricade into a tunnel.  After an interaction with an alien culture, the adults in the vehicle are killed.  This dramatic start of the story leads right into the opening credits and a description of the alien invasion and how the dystopian world of the film came into existence.  After the opening credits end, the main story begins with the start of Gabriel Drummond’s day as he gets up, meets up with a friend and heads to work.

There are some amazing visuals throughout the movie.  The scene where William Mulligan unlocks a janitors closet to show that he has been tracking the phoenix group for years.  The scene showing an underground radio station.  A dog left in a field barking.  People throwing contraband out windows during a police raid.  The image of Gabriel walking past a burned out station wagon with a damaged hula doll attached to the dashboard.  Space ships taking off across Lake Michigan.  Each scene in the film “Captive State” has the feeling of being carefully chosen and adds to the overall visual richness of the story.

Captive State 2

Rupert Wyatt directed and co-wrote the screen play with Erica Beeney.  In an interview about the movie, Rupert Wyatt stated that he had been inspired by French resistance fighters from World War II when writing and directing this movie.  I had seen the interview after watching the film.  Upon a second viewing of “Captive State,” I could definitely see those influences.

Rob Simonsen composed the film’s score.  The music in this film flows perfectly with the scenes of the movie.  It captures the right feeling and sets the tone of the film.

Captive State

I felt compelled to write about this film after watching it.  There were so many things that were done really well and yet I had heard so little about it.  I hope that if you are interested in science fiction films, that you will give “Captive State” a chance.  If you have seen the movie, please let me know your thoughts on the film by leaving a comment.