I’ve been contemplating the notions of personal responsibility in life,
and managing expectations in life.
More and more I find myself refusing to ascribe to a BINARY MINDSET. I run into it everywhere; politics (, kids’ mentality, etc. etc.
Life is not black or white. It is black AND white. To set out with an expectation of which way things “SHOULD” go… is a formula for disappointment.
I am becoming convinced that the “Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda” needs to be played very carefully -only to glean the lesson- and briefly, before moving on.
Meanwhile, we just watched one of my all time favorite movies, Francis Coppola’s The Black Stallion. So fantastic. This time I noticed something I hadn’t caught before. It’s this moment when the boy is on the island, and he is watching the Black (horse) race by, echoed by the figurine his father gave him of Alexander the Great’s magnificent horse, Bucephalus.
In this scene, the Boy goes from being a stranded castaway, to a young man on a mission. In this moment, he -Alex- determines that he is going to RIDE that Black Stallion. The transition happens in a wordless moment, beautifully rendered by the actor, scenery and directing. So beautiful and compelling.
So here is the attachment paradox I am exploring. In that moment that Boy committed himself heart and soul to not only riding the horse, but first befriending him. Not just to trick him, but sincerely from his soul as evidenced in his unshakable loyalty throughout the film. So the story is also a love story depicting the dedication between true friends, in this case horse and boy.
It’s really a recent concept in my life that friendship is fundamentally a responsibility. It feels weird writing that because it seems obvious; true friends are important like family, sometimes moreso. So their ability to depend on you is of utmost importance and requires time and effort. Like anything else you get out of it what you put in. But somehow I never understood this before and I’m not sure I’ve been a very good friend a lot of my life. I don’t know.
Well this leads me to Integrity. Integrity is keeping your word. Speaking the truth and doing what you say.
Words are the promise. Actions are the delivery.
Integrity is everything.
That includes cleaning up a mistake when we DO fail to deliver. (Because we are human, alas.) That means owning our mistakes instead of deflecting them, offering the words of conciliation and making good on their delivery. An exquisite -and rare- art form!
So, the boy took responsibility for his promise to the horse and never wavered in his commitment. He even did with with NO words and ALL actions. Just absolutely investing in the friendship and building trust.
And he DID earn the trust of the wild beast. Because the love is genuine, the courage and devotion is unwavering. Consequently (*spoiler alert) the Quest is victorious.
Yet the greatest prize is the the friendship.
It’s a love story after all.
Love is the driver.
Love is the will to act. The power to keep going.
So where does the NON-ATTACHMENT of escaping suffering fit in with the pursuit of something so glorious as a Quest that makes life worth living?
Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s a paradox. Maybe the world isn’t black and white. Maybe some things are worth suffering for. Maybe love gives us that capacity for courage and devotion even at the great cost of suffering.
*PS: That was not a spoiler alert. Either way no matter; you deserve to SEE THE BLACK STALLION (again)! DO IT!