Friday, May 2, 2014

McConaughey, God, and a Life Philosophy

Aside from the CMA shows decades past, I have never been one for watching award shows, particularly the Oscars.  The people that judge and give out those Academy Awards are simply not to be trusted.  On occasion they will be forced to admit what everyone already knows, like "Braveheart" absolutely was the greatest film of 1995 (and in the top three of all time, in my humble opinion.)  But just when you think you can trust those folks handing out Oscars because they nailed a no-brainer, they will throw in a nomination for “The Crying Game” just to make you doubt your own sanity.  I am still scarred from seeing THAT Oscar-nominated mess.

All of that said, that broken clock is indeed right twice a day.  Again, I did not watch the Oscars this year either, but I did take note of the hub-bub regarding Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech this year for winning the Oscar for best actor in a leading role.  Now, I have always liked McConaughey and found him to have done quite the admirable job of acting in many of his movies, but I was really struck by his Oscar acceptance speech this year.  It actually tells us a lot about the man and gives us a good recipe for how to improve our own selves, and thereby our lives.

McConaughey said in his speech that he needs three things every day:

1.)    Someone to look up to.  (For Matthew, this is God.  For me, I would unabashedly and wholeheartedly agree with that choice.  I cannot think of a better role model for us to follow in living our lives.)
2.)    Something to look forward to.  (For Matthew, this is his family.  Again for me, I must concur with him.  While I am blessed with many great and loving friends, looking forward to spending time with family is always the greatest anticipation.)
3.)    Something/someone to chase.  (For Matthew, this was himself in ten years.)

That third item really struck me as being rather insightful.  I think basic human nature makes most folks hesitant to embrace change and indeed many are loathe to adapt to changing times, myself included.  That said, unless we have a goal, something that gives life meaning and a purpose, we simply are destined to merely exist rather than truly live. 

This last year has been one of profound changes in my life.  I can choose to try and maintain the status quo and refute some of those changes to the best of my ability by living in the past, or I can embrace the goodness of God and pray for His love, wisdom, mercy, and guidance as I navigate the waters of my current life into the future.  To do that, I have to have something or someone to chase, while always being open to what God wants me to do.  If I can discern and thereby live His plan for me, ultimately my happiness will one day be assured in His heavenly kingdom. 

How does one do this?  I suspect the answer is different for everybody.  For me, I was intrigued by Matthew McConaughey’s answer.  When I think back ten years ago in my own life, I see myself still in the early years of my career at my current company.  I see my youngest daughter getting ready to go to junior high school.  I see myself in a very immature stage of my faith and spiritual growth.  I see myself comfortable and happy in my marriage to my beloved wife. 

Fast forward ten years to today and everything has changed dramatically.  My company has just merged with a Fortune Five company and potentially huge changes for my career lie ahead if I choose to remain in my current engineering profession.  My youngest daughter is now all grown up, moved out, and is tackling the world on her own terms.  My faith has grown and my love of God has increased exponentially as I converted and entered Christ’s own Catholic Church, so much so that I now am part of a team at my parish that helps to bring other people searching for God to a similar greater knowledge and love of Him.  And my beautiful wife of nearly twenty three years unexpectedly and suddenly passed away last autumn leaving me devastated and trying to figure out what “normal” is in my life.

So what/whom should I chase going forward?  Again, in admiration of Matthew’s answer, I want to set some goals and work day by day to make progress towards them over the next decade of my life.  That said, if I have learned anything over the past year it is that if you want to hear God laugh, you simply have to tell Him your plans.  While I am praying constantly and trying mightily to listen to what God wants of me, I am determined to try to the best of my abilities to work towards those goals with the underlying axiom of following His two greatest commandments:  Love God with all your heart and all of your soul, and to love my neighbor as myself.  If I can even partially live my life following those standards in striving towards my goals, I am sure that whoever I am a decade from now, I will be a person that I will want to meet.  God is indeed very very good.


Martha Happ said...

Thank you great post, your friend MH

Burr Deming said...

Great to see you back, T. Paine!!!

Annie said...

I think middle age (gulp) tends to make us realize the shortness of life. It's a breath really. A vapor. The beautiful wrinkle just like the ugly.

Life is to be lived. So live it amazingly.

Ten years from now, will we be able to look back and see intellectual and spiritual growth or stagnant ponds of wasted time and effort.

The choice is ours - but the plan is Gods.

Nice to see you writing again my old friend.

And by old I mean...OLD :D

T. Paine said...

Martha, Burr, and Annie, thanks for your supportive comments.

Annie, your words are wise indeed. All of that said, what's up with "old"?!? I am only a year or so older than you, ma'am! :)