As a general rule, general rules don’t work for me.
I need specific instruction. And although I’m a self-starter when it comes to some things, New Year’s resolutions do not fall into that category.
Movies inspire me. If someone offers to teach me to fish, for instance, I say a polite “No thank you” and catch, instead, a great movie about fishing like A River Runs Through It (1992) or On Golden Pond (1981).
So instead of beginning the new year (2015, can you believe it?) by pledging to lose weight, eat more veggies or cut down on episodes of Shark Tank on TV, I’m scouring the movie channels for great movies that will, in general, light a fire under my, uh, aspirations.
Oddly enough, I’m turning to the based-on-real-life biography My Left Foot to get off on the right foot. Three-time Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis won his first best actor Oscar portraying a feisty Irish quadriplegic.
Christy Brown found his unique voice as a writer and typed out his work using only his left foot. I decided to try that to write this column, but only managed to get my shoe and sock off and knock over my coffee cup trying to get into writing position.
We don’t need to duplicate Brown’s toe-tapping writing process, only his unflinching determination to get a message across. That’s the kind of thing that inspires me not to waste time fretting about little things that stand in the way in 2015.
If I have one goal for the New Year, it’s to increase my capacity to give. We don’t have to do that with our checkbooks. It took a lot of years to realize this, but giving of our time and just showing up when needed may be the greatest gift of all.
I could turn to a dozen movies for that kind of inspiration. But for the sake of spotlighting one, I’m focusing on The Blind Side (2009), directed by Texan John Lee Hancock and starring Sandra Bullock.
Based on the book by Michael Lewis, The Blind Side blends compassion with need. Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) and her husband Sean (Tim McGraw) take in a confused, homeless gentle giant of a young man named Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron).
When Michael shows an interest in football, Bullock’s Leigh Anne jumps in to build self-esteem and guide the boy’s future on the gridiron even to the point of stepping on the toes of a football coach or two along the way.
And don’t worry that The Blind Side is only about sports. Hancock, who did a tremendous job balancing humanity on and off a baseball field as director of The Rookie in 2002, repeats that delicate balance on the football field in The Blind Side.
Of course it doesn’t hurt that it’s Bullock coaching the young man about life between the “Hut, huts” on the field. Bullock, nominated for an Academy Award as the stranded astronaut in Gravity in 2013, took home the best actress golden statuette for The Blind Side.
Just watching movies about determined humans overcoming great difficulty to do good or spectacular things is not enough, however. We must get out there and do something ourselves to improve us personally or further the greater common good.
If only there was a movie about that.