When I was growing up my Dad and I always used song lyrics and movie quotes to carry on conversations. One would start off with a normal statement about the weather or the dogs and it would become this complex web of facial expressions, silly (and poorly executed) accents, and above all the disjointed lines from movies that really had nothing to do with each other besides sounding vaguely similar. This is not to say that we don’t have our own original thoughts and use our own words. We did and still do, which can get us into another brand of trouble better left for another story. In this brief story, however, I would like to address one movie quote in particular from one of the all time greatest rom-coms, You’ve Got Mail. SPOILER ALERT just in case anyone has thus far not seen this movie, but to be honest if you don’t already know the outcome of a movie with Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and a picturesque New York setting then you probably need to take a good hard look at your life. In this movie, Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) owns a children’s book store called The Shop Around the Corner. It was her mother’s books store before hers and she was raised learning from and loving the store as a part of her identity. She eventually runs into trouble as a large chain book store Fox Books opens up just blocks from her location. At this point the character interactions assume the interactions and general plot line of Pride and Prejudice and carry the movie to it’s inevitable romantic ending. One could be forgiven for never looking deeper into the minor characters, but there is one character in particular that I admire above all else in this film. Her Name is Birdie, as played by Jean Stapleton. She is a wise and calming force and amidst the chaos of The Shop Around the Corner going out of business she says “Closing the store is the brave thing to do. You are daring to imagine that you could have a different life. Oh, I know it doesn’t feel like that. You feel like a big fat failure. But you’re not. You’re marching into the unknown, armed with nothing.”
In the last year I changed careers, tried to start a business, failed at that business, lost my roommate, sold my house, and moved back in with my parents. All of this on the cusp of Thirty. I have really been beating myself up about being a failure of an adult. I can’t help feeling that I missed some developmental milestone and am missing key ingredients that go into being a successful and self sufficient human. Listening to Birdie’s words, however, makes me feel that instead of being a failure, I am an adventurer. I am an explorer of my own potential. I am my own personal Soul Scuba Diver and I have only scratched the surface of what I am capable. It doesn’t fix everything and it certainly does not mean that all my doubt and sadness is gone, but it is another tool in my belt for those times when I would rather not do or try or be.