The multicolored pixels glowed in the dark room. Keanu Reeves was in a sweaty locker room. It is the year 2002. I am in High School. The Replacements is a movie you watch on TV when you are sick of Judge Judy.
“You’re playing and you think everything is going fine. Then one thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can’t move… you can’t breathe… because you’re in over your head. Like quicksand. “
The coach in the film had just asked what all the football players fear. Banal and asinine answers mostly and then Keanu dishes out this gem about quicksand.
Oh Keanu, you beautiful poet.
I hate sports. But this resonated with me. I started the school year with high hopes and then I found myself drowning in this flood of procrastination. I would ignore homework until eventually I HAD to do it. Yet having waited so long, I would find myself unable to finish anything at all and the harder I fought the deeper I would sink behind. I was in quicksand.
We can all relate.
The momentum is stronger then the strength we have to stop it. Let alone slow it down.
We have all felt the feeling of weakness. Unable to choke the throttle of an unstoppable force.
Someone charges forward and we can merely hold onto thin cotton strips of t-shirt as they blow past us. There is a feeling in between catching and losing.
A brief hard to describe moment. Our brains fire off thousands of electrical signals processing complex math equations and we decide. And in that moment… we are tired. We are willing to concede our efforts if the argument is good enough.
In that moment… we give it all or give it up.
We step up our speed, grip a little tighter, and lock it down to stop this object. Or we slow down and withdraw, accepting defeat.
It takes immense energy and force to stop an object in motion. Whether it is on a grassy field stained with sweat and blood. Or it is in the crescendo of broken glass and steel as two vehicles impact.
Life often feels like that object in motion.
How many times have you felt the sting of defeat? Captain of your own ship, plotting a course toward an iceberg? At some point we decide… The energy to turn this ship around, to stop this from happening, it is too much.
And so life plods on, plowing into ice and frost. The steel ship crumbles. Resigned, alive, yet wounded, the captain decides to never let this happen again.
Then a year later. New Ship. Another Iceberg. Another impending crash. And we ask ourselves…
When does it restart? When do I get a do-over? Because I just want another clean slate.
So we get into the habit, when the ship is too hard to turn around, we put our hope in the future.
“A year from now I will be in a new town, a new place, a new college…” or “This year is almost up, why bother changing?”
And we arrive. At a point where today is terrible, tomorrow is awful, yesterday is shameful and if we are disingenuous and bold, six months from now will either be livable or at worst, a heavenly delusion.
Because to turn that ship around, to plot a new course, is so much harder then just letting our life crash, burn, or fizzle in mediocrity.
I gotta be honest, some years I’ve been a terrible Sea Captain. Although my life has been a fantastic Ice Breaker or at worst a beacon to warn others that getting hopped up on energy drinks and lady Gaga can cut your knee caps during Karaoke.
It’s been striking me today, as I work at a school how calculated life gets when it’s based on semesters and credit hours.
“Oh I only have a couple weeks left in the semester.” or “I’ll get it better next term.” An audible defeat, hours, days, weeks, before the finish line.
It’s natural really. How many of us want to throw in the towel just hours into the day? “Today is not going well and it’s only going to get worse!”
I’ve been reading a couple books on finance, life, religion, Judaism. And it’s got me thinking…
The audacity of Christianity.
See in this religion, it is not acceptable to throw in the towel. There is no off-time. There is no moment where you are given a “Sin-for-a-break-card.” And it’s got me questioning, when the ship is headed to the wrong harbor? Do I believe I can turn it around.
These last few weeks have been challenging, in the best of ways. I’ve been looking internally and seeing ways I can be a better man. Getting engaged does that.
And I’ve been seeing how… you can turn the ship around.
The answer is usually easy to know but impossibly hard feeling to do.
Fat? Eat right and exercise. Broke? Stop smoking, going into debt, read a book, and cut off cable television for awhile. Failing in school? Study, study when it’s not fun and it kind of sucks. Study when you are free so you can be free later.
It boils down to one thing, doing the hard-work. Believing that giving an effort and trying really hard will turn the ship around. Sometimes people say things like, “This always happens at work.” or “I’ll be gone in a few months anyways but it’d be sure nice if we prayed more.”
And I say… pray more. Eat less. Exercise more. Save more. Do it. Don’t stop. Don’t give up but give it all.
Believe in your heart of hearts if this gospel can make dry bones new and bring life to the hurting and sick that we can actually achieve something. Because Jesus Did. He made the blind see, He changed the world, He said we can turn whole lives around through His message.
We can actually turn around these little ships, escape from these little quicksand traps, we can change things.
You don’t turn a ship around by changing every facet of the ship, you turn the rudder. Of course sometimes it takes a bit more when you are plodding at 43 knots into a volcano. But we start by changing the direction we are headed in, and that is quite a simple step.
We don’t change our lives by striving for perfection, we change it by striving for being just a little bit better, yet when you give up. That will never happen.
So somedays I think about Keanu, those dirty football players, and that quote. I think about where I’m at and I know, whatever spot in life I’m in, I have to keep struggling, keep going, keep believing, I can be a better person.