“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” — Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo (2011)
A blogger friend recently reminded me of this quote. It sounds nice, right? But I’m here to tell you that Benjamin Mee is WRONG. Benjamin Mee is wrong because Hollywood is wrong. Hollywood is wrong all the time.
See for yourself. Take any Hollywood movie, and see how it stacks up in “real life.” Boy meets girl, lives happily ever after. Injured animal rescued, set free. Rookie works hard, makes it to the big leagues. The workplace is glamor and, “Caviar, anyone?” Sex leads to love. And, sometimes, all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage, and something great will come of it.
The keyword here (which Hollywood downplays) is “sometimes.”
Let me back up. For those of you who haven’t seen the film, Benjamin Mee is referring to how he met his wife. He saw her in a restaurant window as he was passing by. She was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that he did something crazy. He went inside and introduced himself. She smiled, and they talked. The rest is history.
Perhaps I am growing cynical with age (the big 3-0 is no longer that far off), but when was the last time you met a couple that met in such a way? That lasted? Hollywood is full of fabrications, and while we may laugh it off (“It’s nice to dream!”), I feel it can actually do us harm. Because what happens when the girl doesn’t smile? What happens when the animal doesn’t survive? What happens when you don’t make the big leagues and work is sloppy ties and, “French fries?”
We end up feeling disappointed with our lives and foolish about our bravery because Hollywood has set us up with unrealistic expectations about their outcomes.
Not that it isn’t a good quote or there aren’t times when we should be brave. I’ve always agreed with Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump (1994): “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” All of life is a gamble. In order to play, you have to be willing to take risks. It’s just . . . To me, it seems wise to hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. And when things don’t go the Hollywood way, keep your chin up. Don’t let “real life” get you down.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself. ;)