“Punch the keys, for God's sake!”
That's one of my favorite lines, from one of my favorite movies. Here's another from the same movie:
"Be sure to write."
I don't know that it is fair to call it a trend or not, but a few years back, there was an emphasis of sorts among evangelicals to call men to a manly-man spiritual worldview. One of the key tenets was that every guy needs an "accountability" partner or small group.
Having a small group of guys to hang out is a good thing, which probably goes back to cave-man days, although I'm not certain of that, I'm not quite that old. My diploma says I have a "BS in Sociology" so I should know the history and dynamics of male-herdness, but I don't. It would seem though, that traditionally, small bands of males could normally be observed gathered around a card table, golf course, local watering hole or coffee shop. The agenda might include topics like: sports, politics, regularity, new (and old) jokes and the allusion of being Masters of Our Domain.
These new groups though were about accountability--checking in with one another to make sure that we were in fact the master of our domain, that we were being faithful in spiritual matters, etc.
I will confess: the idea of accountability to another guy or group of guys was not and is not appealing to me personally. But for a lot of guys it worked and was important to them. I just couldn't get past the idea that I was somehow or another so lazy, dim-witted, unmotivated, undisciplined or whatever, that I needed yet someone else to tell me to floss, drink a lot of water, pray, go to the gym, etc.
The fact is that I am who I am, when I'm at my best, because there have been people who cared enough about me to push me, to challenge me, to inspire me, to set examples for me. That was true when I was six and it's true today at 60-something.
The beauty of this "people need people" reality is at the heart of the two protagonists of Finding Forrester, one of my Picks for great movies. One of the characters is William Forrester, played by Sean Connery. William is a pulitzer prize winning author who has become a recluse and hasn't written anything in years. In a weird crossing of paths, he meets Jamal, a high school age, afro-american kid who loves basketball and writing, but he keeps that passion to himself because it just doesn't fit his culture.
It is a wonderful story of two very disparate guys, who are united by a life in the Bronx and their value of writing. In their weird and wonderful relationship they make each other better human beings, or as my friend Mako Fujimura would say: they re-humanize one another.
This is why Finding Forrester is an important film and on my lists of Pops Flicks Picks.
The two lines from the movie that I started this post with are metaphors and themes for the challenge each offers the other. When William tells Jamal to PUNCH the keys (of his old manual typewriter) he is calling forth an authority and boldness in Jamal.
The line from Jamal to William: "Don't forget to write," comes toward the end of the movie as the two are parting as fast friends. Jamal is not just saying, "write to me," he is saying William you ARE a writer, do what you do.
Thank you; to all of you, who have been so affirming to me, who have been relentless in holding me accountable, knowing how much I dislike that idea. Thank you for telling me, "DO WHAT YOU DO."
Now, if I may be so bold: DO THIS--Watch Finding Forrester. I am holding you accountable to do so.