Nah. I didn’t get this title from some book of wisdom. I’m watching Joe versus the Volcano, one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I’m told even Tom Hanks is kind of embarrassed to have been part of this film, but I love it!
A hypochondriac who works in a Dickensian company that makes rectal probes is finally set free by a life-changing diagnosis. And after he learns of his condition, he utters these words:
“If you want to understand the universe…embrace the universe…the door is you.”
“Who am I? Who are you? What other questions are there, really?” he asks.
Now Joe versus the Volcano is not known as one of the great philosophic works of our time. In fact, people look at me with kind of a pitying look in their eyes when I wax on about this – despite knowing how flawed it is as a film. But as a vision quest…an odyssey into one’s own soul…ah! there it succeeds.
It was written by John Patrick Shanley who wrote the fabulous play Doubt (update: also now a film). He also wrote the delightful Moonstruck, among other things. And despite the apparent flimsy nature of this film, he has imbued it with some thoughtful moments in a “doesn’t take itself too seriously” framework.
There’s a lot more I could say about the film, but for now I just wanted to share what I think is a message worth pondering:
The door to the universe is you.
And of course it’s also me. And before I go out there and try to do all kinds of wonderful stuff, it would help a lot if I first got to know who I am. And to find my inner strength that will be there for me no matter where I go and what I face. And it would also really help to truly like myself even when I screw up – which being human I will – equally embracing the yin and the yang that is all part of who I am.
And then it would help to get to know you. And know you are a lot like me. Different, but yet the same. Each of us with value and each with ideas worth listening to. Each of us with dreams that matter. Each of us deserving of compassion. Each of us deserving to be heard. But remembering that I deserve as much as anyone else even if I choose to put them first. Knowing that in any situation, I will figure out a way to do what needs to be done. Knowing I add value even if I just listen. And remembering to love myself no matter what.
Then, and only then can I step out into the world and not get blown about by each and every gust of wind.