Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sobering Reflections on the Movie “Click”

Imagine you are given a universal remote control – one that flips more than just sports, movies and news. What if this universal remote control does more? What if you could control your entire life through the remote control, enabling you to fast-forward, rewind, search by chapter, and freeze-frame your life? Wouldn’t this be nice? I know this sounds nonsensical. But, bear with me right now and I need you to put on your creativity hat and read the rest of the article as if you were a five-year old.

Well, this is the basic premise behind the movie Click. Adam Sandler who plays Michael Newman has a beautiful wife, two children, and a good paying job at an architect company. He feels, however, like many others in life. Absolutely exhausted and drowned from all the vicissitudes in life.  This is when he is given a supernatural remote control from a weird scientist Morty (Christopher Walken). Before I share the sobering insights from Click, I must tell you I really had no expectations about the movie. I merely wanted to have a good time with my girlfriend – a normal two hour thoughtless escape from all the craziness in life. So the philosophical undertones pleasantly surprised me. If you haven’t watched the movie, I highly recommend it. (This blog post is not mean to spoil the plot for you.) So here’s key lessons I learned from Click.

Choices Make Who You Are

How often do we realize that we are at a crossroad in our everyday life? The food we eat, the friends we socialize with, the movies we see, the books we read – all these choices culminate into our uniqueness. It determines who we are, our potential for growth or lack of, what our future will look like. Depending on what choices we makes, we will either nourish or damage ourselves. Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) is an extremely busy man. He scrambles to get his act together as a dad of two adorable pre-teen kids. He also attempts to be a faithful husband to a wife who supports him. He needs to excel as an architect and climb the corporate ladder. Sandler is firefighting every day of his life. He attempts to fulfill all these roles, but he fails to realize that all of this cannot be achieved at expense of another. Thanks to the universal remote control, he makes ‘adjustments’ to his life. He fast-forwards part of his life where all the whining, arguing, and “meaningless or trivial” part of his life. During this time, Michael is on autopilot. After skipping all the bad parts and transitioning into the best part of his life, Michael realizes that though he has been widely regarded as the most reputable and eminent architect, he has failed in the most important part of his life: his relationship with family. He discovers himself as a total freak. He has gained over 100 pounds, dismissed his father who has passed away, neglected his son and daughter who no longer loves him, and divorced with his wife who has found an another man. In all for what? Career? Reputation? Money? All these efforts led him to an unhappy, unfulfilling, meaningless life that led to physical death. The underlying philosophical message is clear. 

The choices you make, makes you. Choose wisely.  Especially as young adults, we never really think about this, but choosing wisely is utterly important. We need to choose our life based on what matters most important for us.

A corollary question emerges. What are your core values? What are the most important priorities in your life? Many people deceive themselves by thinking they really have a solid answer to this question. The reality, however, shows so many people live without intentionality.

A book that I recently read from Andy Stanley entitled ThePrinciple of the Path writ large after watching Click which conveys a similar idea. Unlike cars and computers which have problems to fix, people’s lives can’t be fixed. Rather, directions need to be changed. Stanley says “direction – not intention – determines your destination.” We must break the cycle of self-deception and choose the right path which will lead to the destination. Please watch the short clip where Andy Stanley talks about the principle of the path. 

I would like to challenge you to write down on your journal on what matters most to you. Reflect your current lifestyle. What kind of choices are you making and why are you making it? Do know that all of these choices will lead to inexorable consequences.

Be Present

Adam Sandler struggles to multi-task the various roles and projects in his life. He is absolutely deluged with so much stuff going on. I noticed that he doesn’t seem to be “present” in whatever he does. He is always thinking about something else. 

Learning to be present in life is something I continually struggle with. I always seem to be focusing on the future. I’m planning every new project, day, and activities and become worried how all my efforts will turn out. The movie helped me realize that what all I really have is now. The past is gone and the future is uncertain. Michael Hyatt says that this moment should be a gift.

Every moment is precious and life is way too short to be squandered. Rick Warren is right: “life on earth is a parenthesis of eternity." If that still doesn’t ring a bell for you, let’s try to quantify what this really means.

Let’s assume that you will have a lifespan of 85 years. That turns out to 1020 months or roughly 31,000 days. So, you have a total of 1020 months to live from the time you were born. I’m currently 25 years and 7 months old (307 months). That means I roughly have 713 months left.

Now, let’s think about all the time where I’m inactive and non-value added things that must be happen in our life.

Sleeping – People spend one third of their lives sleeping. So, out of the 713 months, really only have 474 months of time (39.5 years)  that I’m actually awake from now.

Bathroom – People spend more than 20 minutes every day in a bathroom doing things they must do. This doesn’t seem much, for the remaining 474 months (39.5 years) this amounts to 6.58 months in the bath room. Now, I have a total of 467 months left.

Eating – Assuming people eat three meals per day, we can say it takes roughly 2 hours per day eating. That means I will be spending about 38.9 months (3.24 years) eating from now to when I’m 85. After all the eating is done, I have about 428 months left (35 years).

Waiting – They say an average person spends about 5 years waiting in line and queues (i.e., 6 months waiting for traffic lanes). Since I’ve lived 25 years already, I’ll estimate that I have about 3 years (36 months) waiting a line. This leaves me to a mere 392 months. (32.6 years)
Working – If I continue to work until retirement around the age of 60, I have 35 years left to work. Given that I work approximately 260 days each year for 40 hours per week, I spend time about 93 months (7.75 years) working. I am left with a mere 24.85 years.

There is probably more ‘sunk’ time which I haven’t included, but this leaves me to 24.85 years or 298 months. Out of all the things that aren’t listed here, I need to prioritize my life so I can include quality family life in the mere 25 years. So, do you understand now I don’t have 60 years left, but a mere 25 years on earth?

Now, think about all the things you have taken for granted. Your cozy house, school you attend to, adorable children, a good physical health without major disabilities, money to buy food and amenities. I became more humbled as I reflect over the plethora of blessings God poured out in my life. I hope you could take the time to really live in the present. Live with foresight, not hindsight. Don’t live life like you’ll have another chance. This is your only chance. Unlock your potential, achieve your purpose, and glorify your Author and Savior.


Tim Chan said...

Great thoughts Paul. I think being present is a very difficult thing to do. As humans, there is something in us that wants to do more, wants to achieve more, wants to pursue something new. It makes me want to live in the future, to reach the destination I'm aiming for.

Even as a father, I think about how it will be like when my daughter grows older and all the things I could do with her. Sometimes doing this leads to a certain discontent with the present - I definitely need reminders to be present and be grateful for today and all the God has given me right now.

Paul J. Sohn said...

I certainly resonate with your difficulties. I always find myself discontent in the status quo and never fully appreciate blessings God has given me in the present. I am still trying to understand apply a life that is content from our Lord.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." - Philippians 4:12

Joyful Noise for a Joyful Life said...

This reminds me of a wonderful book 'Don't waste your life' by John Piper. He points out the urgency we have to live with this one premise. To know Him and to make Him known. Everything else is secondary. Well thought out blog!