fear > action > change vs. knowledge > action > change
Today, I want to talk about three things: A movie, a professor and an earthquake; seemingly unrelated, but once you finish the post I hope you understand, therefore, please read this post in its entirety.
I was first inspired to write this post by the film, Apocalypto… If you have not seen it, I suggest you do. Try to set aside any prejudices about Mel Gibson, who directs the film. I won’t spoil the plot, but it is a story that, after my many years as a film student, I was not only able to enjoy but take something deeper away from it.
The film is a story of Mayan tribes who are faced with brutal events. Apocalypto follows the main character Jaguar Paw as he tries to overcome his largest obstacle, fear. In the beginning, after discovering one peaceful tribe’s village has been ravaged, seeing their emaciated, beaten bodies trudge through the land, Jaguar Paw’s fears overcome him, realizing this could happen to him, his tribe and his family (an about-to-pop pregnant wife and too cute for words toddler son). His father, Flint Sky, who appears to be a chief or leader in the tribe, notices the look on his son’s face and speaks these very important words of wisdom (from http://www.imdb.com):
Flint Sky: Those people in the forest, what did you see on them?
Jaguar Paw: I do not understand.
Flint Sky: Fear. Deep rotting fear. They were infected by it. Did you see? Fear is a sickness. It will crawl into the soul of anyone who engages it. It has tainted your peace already. I did not raise you to see you live with fear. Strike it from your heart. Do not bring it into our village.
This quote, that I had to read in subtitles because the film is in the native language, resonated with me throughout the film. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Perhaps as a senior English student, perhaps as Dr. R’s film student, I am beginning to listen, not just hear. I am beginning to apply things I learn to other aspects of my life, things I read, things I watch, people I speak to. I knew what Flint Sky meant, by striking fear from our hearts, but I also could not stop thinking of fear as a strong emotional force that we are all too often faced with and we are all guilty of engaging on a daily basis.
Which brings me to my third topic, the earthquake in Chile. My sister, Jaime, one of my best friends, the girl who knows me better than I know myself, mainly because I am not afraid to tell her everything, is 30. She lives in Boulder, Colorado. We talk a few times a week, we are miles and years apart but literally we are closer than ever. We spoke last night, about our mom, our boyfriends, our brother who just moved to Brazil, good food she’s been cooking, her larger than life dog, Boston, herbal remedies as usual and then she said, “Did you hear about the earthquake in Chile?” My response, as usual, “No, I haven’t watched the news.” She continued, “Yes, yesterday morning, the death toll just reached 700 I think. They have better infrastructure than Haiti, but still, it’s not good”” and then we sat in silence. What does this mean, I wanted to ask. What is happening to the world?
Today on the news I read across the television, “EARTHQUAKE RISK HIGHEST IN WESTERN AND CENTRAL U.S.” Fear. It struck me, like a disease, as Flint Sky put it, it was infecting me. My brother is in Brazil. My sister is in Colorado. My father is in Nevada. My step-sister, cousin and two uncles are in California. I may be on the East Coast, but my family is not. Then I thought, what can I do?
Why, more often than not, does it take fear to initiate action? How often are we driven to change something because we are afraid of what will happen if we do not? How many people change their diet because of a family member has high cholesterol and we fear we will have the same fate? Start going to the gym because we fear we are becoming weak or fat? Stopped tanning because we are now seeing the amount of girls being diagnosed with melanoma and horrified this could happen to us? And is this a bad thing? I mean, it is good that you started eating healthily and going to the gym or stopped tanning, and if it takes some scary statistics to make you stop, so be it, but when will we start taking action at the first sign rather than when it is too late? We all have known exercise and eating right is essential to our health. We know the harmful effects of tanning, smoking and drinking. We know the importance of recycling and reducing our carbon footprint. AND we have the resources to implement these changes into our daily lives. Yet, many of us will go on driving our cars down the street when we could walk. We will continue to leave our water running while we brush our teeth. We will throw trash out the window, binge drink until we pass out, tan before prom and add salt to everything. We will do these things until we face something tragic that causes us to reevaluate our lives. We will watch earthquakes occur in countries far away and we will sit back and watch chaos unfold.
I ask you not to live in constant fear, but I ask you to open your eyes, listen, research, question and strive to better yourself and your world before you wake up one day and it is too late to change something that you knew was bad for you all along. Something you knew, was a possibility. You may not realize the effects of change, but you will notice the effects of a world gone unchanged, and I promise you at this ripe young age, with everything ahead of you, a marriage, children, a career, a home, now is the perfect time to change, not because you have already gotten sick, gotten fat, lost something or someone, seen your world fall down around you, but because you know the benefits of doing it right in the first place.
After Jaguar Paw literally goes through hell, running in fear…he realizes he must take action, not action driven by fear, but action driven by hope. He stands at the bottom of the waterfall and exclaims,
I am Jaguar Paw! This is my forest! My sons and their sons will hunt here after I am gone! I am Jaguar Paw. This is my forest. And I am not afraid.
Seek change in one thing that matters to you. Give one thing up that is either destroying you, the people around you or the world.