What constitutes the good life? It’s one of the questions that I wrestled with as I wrote my book, Spun: 101 Movies to Recreate Your Reality. Even though we pursue the symbols of what we think will create the good life, ultimately, what we are seeking is happiness and fulfillment. Life is a journey of self-discovery. By participating fearlessly and authentically in the eternal drama, we discover something more precious than silver and gold. We catch a glimpse of our own soul.
In The Bucket List, Carter Chambers is a working-class African-American mechanic, who shares a hospital room with billionaire businessman, Edward Cole, after they are both diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. It’s unlikely these two men’s paths ever would have crossed, except for their illness. As their friendship develops, Edward learns that Carter has written a “bucket list” consisting of things he would like to do before he dies. It’s his vision of the good life. After learning he has less than a year to live, Carter tosses the list away.
Edward becomes intrigued by the concept and retrieves the discarded list. He adds his own wishes to the bucket list and offers to finance the venture if Carter agrees to join him. As they travel around the world, their bond of friendship deepens. They soon realize their differences are only skin-deep. Carter reveals that his love for his wife has diminished over the years, while Edward shares the pain of his estrangement from his daughter. As they begin to realize what is most important in life, they find the love and happiness they are seeking.
The Bucket List reveals that it is never too late to chart a new course for our lives. A “bucket list” consists of the goals, dreams and desires that we wish to achieve, fulfill, or experience before we die. By creating a list, it gives our lives more clarity of purpose so that we can maximize each moment. A bucket list helps us to gauge how far we have come and how much farther we still have to go. It adds new meaning to our lives. If you don’t have a bucket list, this may be a good time to start one.
Once again, the reel world turns out to be no less predictable than the real world, since characters never know whether Fortune will smile or frown on them. In the film, A Little Princess, Sara Crewe’s father is a wealthy businessman, so she is accustomed to living the good life. Before departing on an extended trip to India, he enrolls Sara in an expensive boarding school, where she is treated like a little princess. When the headmistress of the school learns that Sara’s father has died and left her penniless, she confiscates her possessions and forces her to work as a maid.
Sara suffers many indignities as a result of her changed status. She has to live in a dank and dark attic, while having to cleanup after her former classmates. Despite suffering daily abuses, Sara chooses not to become embittered by her experience. Instead, she cheerfully adapts to her changed circumstances and continues to extend kindness to those less fortunate than herself. Sara’s true character is revealed during her adversity and that is why we root for her to succeed in her quest.
What these movies reveal is that reel life heroes bravely rise to the challenges set before them. Many of these characters are ordinary people placed in extraordinary circumstances. It’s no wonder we easily identify with them. They are telling our stories. It’s the reason why we feel emotionally connected to them. When they love, we love. When they win, we win. When they hurt, we hurt. That’s the magic of movies!
Similarly, our success in the real world is determined by how well we respond to the obstacles placed in our path. By remaining steadfast in the face of adversity, we discover different aspects of ourselves. It’s how we develop and grow. By following the evolutionary impulse to create the good life, we become a far better person than we were the day before.
How do you define the good life? Do you have a bucket list? What are some items on your bucket list?
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