Our personal scripts work like this: we subconsciously piece together fragments of acquired stories--from folklore, family history, novels, plays, movies, etc.--and time and again our personal experience either reinforces or revises the validity of our script. If we figure out what our script is, then we can skip to the end and decipher how our lives will play out in real-time: will you be a hero or a villain? A martyr or a victim? A success or a failure? If we're really self-actualized, we can even change our scripts, mold them to conform to our best qualities and dreams, and thus shape our destinies.
What is your personal script? Mine closely mirrors the original screenplay of "the Karate Kid," which Elizabeth gave me as a DVD for Christmas.
Not only is this movie a tour de force of 80's pop culture (big hair, camoflauge pants, cheesy rock soundtrack), but it is an iconic representation of how I view my relationship to the world: the scrawny, slightly sardonic, good-natured and somewhat nerdy guy who gets the crap kicked out of him over and over again, only to be standing at the end on the winner's stand as the crowd cheers and the soaring music plays, holding the trophy and the beautiful girl. (That's you, Elizabeth.)
That sounds like yours truly, doesn't it?
Anyway, I cannot overstate the impact this seminal movie has had on my childhood and life. Here's a few momentous events of my life that have followed the dramatic arc of my internal Karate Kid script:
- making the Chatfield varsity basketball team (after initially getting cut)
- my entire missionary experience
- getting into medical school
- wooing and winning Elizabeth's heart
- surviving and succeeding in residency
- the Worland opportunity rising out of the Cedaredge ashes
- pounding on my little brothers (OK, so this one was always the reverse script--the Johnny version--but it was always the sweetest, ending with Goose writhing on the basement floor like Daniel on the beach)
The scene pictured below, where Miyagi reveals the ways of the force to Daniel--"show me . . . sand-a floor. No no tt tt tt. Like dis. Show me sand-a floor."--is one of my all-time favorites from any movie. When they showed this scene in the MTC as part of a motivational meeting, my heart was bursting out of my chest and I was ready to walk on water. You talk about getting a bunch of Elders pumped to go memorize some more vocab lists!
Plus, this movie provides a terrifying example of pure evil; the Sensai of the Cobra Kai was one bad dude. Has any Hollywood line ever been uttered with more pure malice, more dripping venom, than "Sweep the leg."? (Of note, he does not say, "Sweep the leg, Johnny," as many of us like to recite. Rather it's simply, mercilessly, brutally, "Sweep the leg.") In spite of Miyagi's heroic goodness, I have a feeling that Sensai would have whooped his hiney if they'd had a throw-down in his home dojo.
But back to the script. In more serious terms, I do actually find motivation and meaning in stories like the Karate Kid, Rocky, Star Wars, Hoosiers and Seabiscuit (too intense), and so my personal script is probably better entitled, more generically, as "Markie the Underdog." (This is different from the B-movie classic "Markie the Wonderdog." Not me.)
So now I pose this question to you: what is your personal script? What stories give meaning and perspective to your life and challenges? (Hopefully not Dumb and Dumber.)
Now, fade out of this post with a triumphant refrain ringing in your ears:
"You're the best . . . around.
Nothin's ever gonna keep you down.
You're the best . . . around.
Nothin's ever gonna keep you down . . ."