Ask Wednesday: What Movie Scenes “Taught” You?
Do you have a scene from a favorite movie (particularly one you loved in childhood) that taught you some important lesson or moral in life? Or one that has almost projected itself onto your sub-consciousness so that it has actually influenced who you are and how you live?
Have you ever seen The Karate Kid? (If you haven’t, you haven’t lived.)
It’s the 1984 feel-good blockbuster about a scrawny kid from New Jersey who moves to California and gets the snot beaten out of him by virtually every rich and blonde-haired member of the in-crowd—an in-crowd that also happened to be highly skilled in the art of reverse punches and roundhouse kicks, thanks to a psychopathic Vietnam vet turned local karate master. Daniel exacts revenge on the whole group by learning karate, entering the All-Valley Karate Tournament, and systematically knocking every one of the crescent-kicking Abercrombie & Fitch models out of contention. He perfects his revenge with a thrilling come-back-from-injury victory over the group’s ringleader, Johnny Lawrence, using a secret karate move patented by fishermen living off the coast of some island near Japan.
Of course, he doesn’t do it alone. He’s trained by Mr. Miyagi, an Okinawan handyman turned sensei, and in a critical scene in the movie, Miyagi tests Daniel’s moxie, trying to figure out just how dedicated Daniel really is. The scene goes something like this:
Miyagi: Now. Ready?
Daniel: [hesitantly] Yeah. Yeah, I think so.
Miyagi: [sighing] Daniel-San. You walk on left side of road: safe. You walk on right side of road: safe. You walk middle of road: squish. Just like grape.
Daniel: I don’t follow you.
Miyagi: You karate do ‘yes’: safe. You karate do ‘no’: safe. You karate do ‘maybe’: squish. Just like a grape. Understand?
Daniel: Yeah, I understand.
Miyagi: Now. Ready?
Daniel: (resolutely) Yes, I’m ready.
For whatever reason, that scene has always stuck with me. The basic message: whatever you decide to do in life, decide to DO it. Once the decision is made, don’t look back. Or, as Tony Horton, the eccentric fitness guru from the P90x program says: “Decide. Commit. Succeed.”
There are movies that I loved when I was a little boy—like Karate Kid—that contain scenes that ended up becoming little cinematic parables for me. At different points of my life, I have remembered them and they have taught me—and sometimes influenced my actions.
Isn’t it funny how scenes from movies can do that? (Although I’m not surprised: a good story, whether in a book or on film, exercises a tremendous power over us—hopefully, for good.)
What about you? Do you have a scene from a favorite movie (particularly one you loved in childhood) that taught you some important lesson or moral in life? Or one that has almost projected itself onto your sub-consciousness so that it has actually influenced who you are and how you live?
I’d be interested in hearing your answers.
Posted in Memoirs, Stories, and Anecdotes