In my ongoing diatribe about movies today not being as good as they used to be, I bring you:
Grosse Pointe Blank
I like most of the stuff that John Cusack did, but I would have to list this movie as my favorite. I have a weird identification with this one, though. This may sound like a strange parallel, but I have sort of lived a similar life that Martin Blank (played by Jon Cusack) did, even though he was a hitman.
As the movie unfolds, Martin is confronted with the idea of facing his 10 year high school reunion. He left his high school sweetheart waiting for him on the night of prom, never to be seen or heard from again. Minnie Driver plays his former girlfriend, who is now a local DJ in his home town of Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Anyway, that’s the underlying premise in the movie: the unresolved feelings that not only he, but many of his former high school peers, are still lugging around with them ten years later. Let that sh*t go people!
As my story goes, I was also a disillusioned high school student, struggling to find my place in the world. I found a calling, and by the end of school I sort of disappeared into another world and pursued that. For me, I didn’t have a desire to be a hitman, but instead was chasing after my dream of being a Pro Racquetball Player. Wait, the connections get deeper…
I, too, am to some degree still in love with my high school sweetheart. This was one-sided, as Wendy never really saw me in that light. And as lost as I was at that particular time in my life, there was plenty of reasons to steer clear. She broke my heart, and that scar will be there forever. But if she hadn’t, my life would never have worked out the way it did. That’s a tough pill to swallow at the time, but in the grand scheme of things, I owe her a thank you for doing so.
As a Pro Racquetball player, I traveled to a new city, “did my job” and then traveled somewhere new. There are so many cities I have been to around the US where I saw the airport, the hotel, and the racquet club where the event was and that’s it. I wasn’t the loner that Martin Blank was, but I had a very small circle of friends I was on that adventure with. I had transient and temporary relationships, long weekend adventures in most cases, and then on to the next city. It was cold and impersonal, and I developed callouses around my feelings because of it. It took a long time to truly open up to someone after that.
When I went to my own 10 year high school reunion, I remember having all of the same thoughts and feelings Martin Blank did; how will I relate to these people? How am I going to explain what I do for a living? Is Wendy going to be there? Is she married, have kids, etc.? What the Hell do I say to her?
As the movie goes on, as in life, the answers to these questions reveal themselves over time. Just like in Grosse Pointe Blank, I spoke with people who had “peaked” in high school and missed it so much. There were people who still wanted to take a swing at one of their teachers. I chatted with people who had been married, had two or three kids, then divorced and married again, all in a ten year span since graduation.
My life was so much more focused about my own pursuit of excellence, I found it difficult to relate to most who were just trying to get by. I hadn’t kept in touch with them before graduation, and I never did after. I settled my own unresolved issues with Wendy that night, for the most part anyway. That whole chapter of my life is but a distance memory.
At the end of the movie, Cusack comes to terms with his past and turns the page to a new chapter in his life. He is burned out, done with it, lost his taste for the game. Sounded VERY familiar to me… I was in pursuit of my goals until I couldn’t take it any more, had maximized my abilities, and gotten as much out of that lifestyle as was to be had. I retired. Although I didn’t ride off into the distance with Wendy in a convertible like Martin Blank did, the movie did bring an interesting sense of parallels and closure to that chapter in my life. I went on to become a coach, a very good salesman, and most of all, a better person from that journey. That is about as much as you can hope for in life; continual refinement and improvement in your our journey.
The real trick is to look ahead to where I am at now, so you have more clarity to where you are now. You’ll realize that things that happen now are not life and death, but in most cases just another turn in the road. Don’t wait, like I did, to look back on everything to gain a sense of appreciation for the journey that you’re on. You HAVE TO be aware enough to enjoy the process now, otherwise you will get far less out of it than you should. Stop and smell the roses once in a while, and be aware of the fact that whatever it is you are doing now, it is not forever. Live it to the fullest while you can, as this too shall pass.