Sometimes things hit me at the oddest moments. Yesterday was one of those moments. My daughter and I went to see the movie "Up". It's a story that starts when this little boy (Carl Fredrickson) meets this little girl (Ellie)and they are in awe of this man named Charles Munz. Mr. Munz is an explorer -- who travels to South America in a blimp and collects exotic specimens of animals. Ellie shares her adventure book (scrapbook) with the Carl after he breaks his arm trying to rescue his balloon. She wants to travel to South America. She's written on one whole page the words, "Things I'm going to do."
Carl and Ellie grow up, get married, get jobs (Carl makes balloons and Ellie works in the South American exhibit at the zoo), discover they can't have children, and make plans to travel to South America. They start saving their coins in a jar for the trip, and even paint a picture of their house sitting on Paradise Falls. But as life has a way of doing, a series of bad "blows" mean taking money from the jar to fix a flat tire, help with medical expenses, etc. Pretty soon, time flies, Carl and Ellie are elderly and then -- well u can guess.... (and this is where I was crying during the movie) Ellie gives Carl her adventure book ....
Eventually, construction of a city starts to go up around Carl's house, and the court decides (because of something Carl does that makes him appear to be a harm to others) to ship Carl off to the old folks home. Carl figures what the heck -- he'll tie a lot of balloons to his house, float it away to South America and sit it on Paradise Falls for Ellie's last wish.
What happens next is exciting and thrilling, and scary, and funny -- one big adventure after another, as Carl discovers he has a stowaway on his porch (a Junior Wilderness Explorer named Russell who is trying to earn his last badge for assisting the elderly and has an absentee dad that he longs to see).
The story has a happy ending and there were laughs and oh mys and all the sorts of things you expect in a great movie. It's probably the best movie so far from Pixar -- not so much for the animation but for the storyline. But I couldn't help thinking about Ellie -- and how sad it was that she never got to fulfill her dream of going to Paradise Falls. She got to do lots of other things -- which are shown near the end of the movie -- but her one big dream was never fulfilled.
So where am I going with all this? Well, a verse in Proverbs says that "hope deferred makes a heart sick and that a dream fulfilled is a tree of life" (Pro. 13:12). I once heard Danny Silk (church leader at Bethel Church in Redding, CA) say that there is nothing more exciting than to spend your day working on your dreams, but most of us spend our days working on somebody else's dreams. I've written about all this before, but from the negative perspective of all the things I had planned for my life and how a great deal of them hadn't ever materialized.
After seeing this movie, I realize that a few of my dreams did materialize (having children, living different places, meeting new people) and that perhaps I wasn't looking at my life from the right perspective. Instead of looking at my life and seeing only what's wrong with it -- I ought to be looking at it from the angle of what's right with it. I know -- there is a LOT wrong with it -- but honestly -- I have a great deal for which to be thankful -- just like Ellie. I have two healthy children, I had a great mom who loved me dearly, I have wonderful friends and some very close brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes, I don't always have money to pay the bills or make ends meet let alone tie a knot, and some days are filled with a great deal of physical pain -- but all in all -- what matters most is the people, the relationships -- and those are pretty solid.
So what am I complaining about -- and that's basically the message I took away from this movie. That I really have no business complaining because the things that matter most, I have. The other stuff -- and that's all it really is; stuff -- matters little. The real meaning of the title of this movie has very little to do with the house going up -- it has more to do with Carl's attitude looking up -- and that's major -- its all about our attitude!
You know that saying that today is the first day of the rest of your life. It's kind of cheesy really -- but I'm going to look at today as the first day of the rest of my life -- and I'll keep pursuing my dreams to travel and write -- but I won't be looking at them with disappointment and longing if they don't happen. I'll be grateful and happy with the things that do happen and the people that God brings into my life and the joy they give me. My Paradise Falls is right now, today, right here -- every day...